Entry Category: Agriculture

Caviar

Arkansas caviar, which is distributed nationally, consists of eggs from certain freshwater fish caught in the state’s rivers. The commercial fishermen who supply the product to wholesalers generally obtain the eggs from the Arkansas, Mississippi, White, Cache, and St. Francis rivers in eastern Arkansas from late November until early April. The eggs come from paddlefish (commonly referred to in the Arkansas Delta as spoonbill catfish), shovelnose sturgeon, and bowfin. Armenian brothers Melkoum and Mouchegh Petrossian often are credited with popularizing caviar in Paris, France, in the 1920s and spurring a worldwide interest in the product. Paddlefish eggs make up the majority of the Arkansas caviar that is harvested. Paddlefish can be distinguished by their large mouths and elongated snouts, called the rostrum. …

Coleman Dairy

Coleman Dairy in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is the oldest continuously operating dairy by the same family west of the Mississippi River and was listed in 2001 by Family Business Magazine as the seventy-fifth-oldest family business in the United States. Five generations of Colemans have operated the business since its beginning in the early 1860s. Coleman Dairy became a division of Hiland Dairy in 2007. Eleithet B. Coleman founded Coleman Dairy in 1862. Attempting to stay ahead of the Civil War, he brought his family to central Arkansas with a few dairy cows. At the time he started the business, dairymen hauled their raw milk in crocks and poured it into whatever containers were brought out to the delivery wagon …

Cotton Industry

Cotton is a shrub known technically as gossypium. Although modest looking and usually no higher than a medium-sized man’s shoulders, its fruit helped to spin off an industrial revolution in 1700s England and foment the Civil War in the 1800s United States. The possibility of riches spun from cotton in the early days helped populate what became the state of Arkansas, with people coming by the hundreds and thousands on a trip that might last two years. Several visitors to Arkansas in the early 1800s made note in their journals and writings of cotton being grown. The crop remained a Southern staple because it needed hot summer days and warm summer nights to bear abundant fruit. It also needed lots …

Crossett Experimental Forest (CEF)

Established in 1934, the Crossett Experimental Forest (CEF) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service was one of the first experimental forests in the southern United States. It has provided decades of scientific research on topics ranging from forest ecology and silviculture to wildlife, hydrology, and soils in the loblolly and shortleaf pine-dominated forests of the Upper West Gulf Coastal Plain geographic province. The scores of studies conducted on the CEF have generated hundreds of scientific publications, making the station an internationally known example of high-quality long-term forestry research. Long-term research studies and demonstration projects also serve as in-the-woods educational opportunities regarding low-cost forestry practices, and tens of thousands of students, professionals, and others have visited the …

Crossett Lumber Company

The Crossett Lumber Company (CLC) was Arkansas’s largest and most influential lumber company from its founding in 1899 until its merger with the Georgia-Pacific Company in 1962. It is notable for its growth alongside the company town of Crossett (Ashley County) and its early use of sustained-yield forestry in collaboration with Yale University’s School of Forestry. On May 16, 1899, Charles W. Gates, Edward Savage Crossett, and Dr. John W. Watzek—all from Davenport, Iowa—founded the Crossett Lumber Company in Ashley County in southeast Arkansas and Morehouse Parish in northern Louisiana. Stockholders named them president, vice president, and treasurer of the board of directors, respectively. Their first action was the purchase of 47,000 acres of land from the Michigan investment firm …

Dairy Industry

Traditionally, milk has been a staple in the diet of Arkansans, especially the young. Throughout history, dairy farming has been vital to the development of rural communities in Arkansas. Originally, dairy farms were located near population centers where milk was sold. However, since the late 1970s, most of the dairy farms have been located in the northwestern part of the state where rolling terrain was not well-suited for row crops. In Arkansas during the 1800s, milk was produced primarily by home milk cows, and the milk was either used on the farm or was bartered or sold to neighbors. With the movement of the population from the farms to the cities after the Civil War, it became necessary to produce …

Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center

Arkansas has more than 1.2 million acres of farmland used for rice production and is the largest producer of rice in the United States, supplying fifty percent of the nation’s crop. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), supports this important industry through research conducted at the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center (DBNRRC) in genetics, physiology, pathology, agronomy, and cereal chemistry to improve rice yield, grain quality, and resistance to diseases, insects, pests, and environmental stress. USDA ARS has conducted rice research at this site since 1931. In 1998, however, a new state-of-the-art facility was completed that allowed tremendous expansion of the scientific staff and scope of the conducted research. The center was named after …

Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

The Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center is located on 2,214 acres in Booneville (Logan County). The center, part of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), conducts research to develop innovative strategies and technologies for small and medium-size forage/livestock/agroforestry farms in order to conserve natural resources and improve economic viability and environmental quality. Research focuses on strategies for increasing profitability of small farms by reducing parasite load and enhancing the genetics of small ruminants; developing foraging plans for livestock, including organic production systems; and integrating agroforestry systems and sustainable manure management practices. The center employs more than thirty people—including scientists, research specialists, and students—and cooperates with partners throughout the United States. The center was …

Dierks, Herman

Herman Dierks was the co-founder and two-time president of the Dierks Lumber and Coal Company, supervising its lumberyard in De Queen (Sevier County) and other parts of eastern Oklahoma and northern Louisiana. With the help of his brothers, he helped create and control the Dierks timber empire. Born near Lyons, Iowa, on September 24, 1863, Herman Dierks was the seventh child of Peter Henry Dierks, a German farmer and a banker, and Margaretha Dorothea Tauk, a Danish immigrant. He joined his brother Hans in Nebraska after Hans bought land there along the newly constructed Burlington Railroad. Dierks farmed until he and his brother bought a lumberyard in 1887, which later proved to be the source of Dierks’s fortune. On May …

Dockery, Jess Orval

Jess Orval Dockery was an aviation pioneer and an innovator of agricultural aviation in the Mid-South region, based first in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and, later, Stuttgart (Arkansas County) and Clarksdale, Mississippi. He played a leading role in developing aerial application processes, perfecting the science of crop dusting and spreading the practice to the Midwest. Jess Orval Dockery was born on February 26, 1909, in Dallas, Texas, to Jess P. Dockery and Myrtle Kemp Dockery. Confederate general Thomas Pleasant Dockery was his great-uncle, while socialite Octavia Dockery was a cousin. During World War I, his family moved to Lawton, Oklahoma, where his father ran a jitney service to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. This gave Dockery access to the base’s aircraft, leading …

Drought of 1930–1931

Arkansas’s worst drought of the twentieth century took place in 1930–1931. Twenty-three states across the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys and into the mid-Atlantic region were caught in its grip. The severest drought centered upon eight Southern states, with Arkansas sixteen percent worse than the other states based on weather statistics. Agrarian blight became a precursor to corollary social, political, and disaster relief issues, which escalated and attracted national attention. The devastating Flood of 1927, financial upheaval from the 1929 stock market crash, and killer tornadoes preceded the drought that struck Arkansas in the spring of 1930. Rainfall during June and July 1930 was the lowest on record—thirty-five percent below rainfall in 1929. July temperatures, typically in the nineties, reached …

Farkleberry

Farkleberry is a common name for the shrub species Vaccinium arboreum of the family Ericaceae and is sometimes called the sparkleberry. This bushy evergreen is native to the southeastern United States and ranges from the East Coast to west Texas. It bears small, black berries that are appealing to birds but not to humans. The shrub, which can grow to be about twenty-five feet tall, is not generally considered desirable or valuable, but its bark has been used to tan leather and its wood to make tool handles. In Arkansas, however, the farkleberry has been long associated with Arkansas governor Orval Eugene Faubus due to cartoons drawn by George Edward Fisher. The shrub is nearly unknown today, but its funny-sounding …

Forest Management and Conservation

The Dictionary of Forestry defines “forest management” as the application of biophysical and socioeconomic principles to predominantly tree-covered lands to meet specific objectives while maintaining productivity. To this end, forest management encompasses the art and science of manipulating timberlands for a range of renewable natural resources, including (but not limited to) wood products, wildlife, water, clean air, carbon storage, biodiversity, aesthetics, and recreation. Conservation has always been an integral part of forest management, although its definition has evolved over the decades as the practice of forestry has matured. Today, conservation has more of an emphasis on long-term sustainability, but during the earliest years of professional forestry, any effort related to the non-exploitive treatment of forests was considered conservation. In Arkansas, …