Arkansas has roughly 650 farms and 15,000 acres of cropland devoted to vegetable production and 1,100 farms producing more than $180 million worth of fruits, such as peaches, strawberries, blackberries and more. These fruits and vegetables fall into the category of “specialty crops.”
The category of “specialty crops” is a catch-all term for a variety of traditional, regional produce. Arkansas farmers grow a wide variety of these specialty crops, including Southern staples like tomatoes, sweet potatoes and watermelons.
Each summer, Arkansas Farm Bureau hosts meetings for all major Arkansas commodities and, on June 14, it hosted a “specialty crops” meeting in Clarksville (Johnson County) at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Fruit Research Station. In attendance were Steve Morgan and his son Mark, who, along with their families, own and operate Peach Pickin’ Paradise near Clarksville. Mark and his family were also named the 2017 Farm Family of the Year in Arkansas.
They sat down for a conversation about the meeting, as well as this year’s peach crop and when their “u-pick” operation will open to the public:
Steve Morgan also took time to offer his thoughts about the meeting and key issues facing Arkansas fruit and vegetable farmers in brief video:
Participants in the specialty crops meeting also toured nearby fields after the meeting. Photos from the meeting and tour are below.