Entry Category: Agriculture

Lavacaberry

The Lavacaberry is a hybrid variety of berry that takes its name from the town of Lavaca (Sebastian County), where it was planted extensively in the 1940s. The introduction of the berry to the town helped reinvigorate the local economy at a time when the effects of the Depression were still being felt. In 1937, the Lavaca School District hired Idus H. Fielder as a vocational instructor. In his eagerness to help local growers, Fielder met Ed Girard, a local farmer, to discuss the plight of the farmers. After listening to Girard and others, Fielder remembered a berry from the farm of R. E. Hallett in McRae (White County). The berry was known as a “California Red Raspberry,” and Hallett …

Midland Holm

Midland Holm was a 5,000-acre plantation situated in the Oil Trough Bottoms on the White River in Independence County. It was established by Virgil Young (V. Y.) Cook. Described by his contemporaries as a young man “with keen foresight and ability, coupled with indomitable energy,” Cook, at age eighteen, began life in Arkansas as a merchant in Grand Glaise (Jackson County) in 1866. Showing an early interest in the Oil Trough Bottoms, he bought his first eighty acres there in 1873 for $500. He would eventually own a plantation of 5,000 acres of the fertile bottomland, making him the largest landowner in the county. After being appointed receiving agent for the Cairo and Fulton Railroad, Cook moved with the railroad …

Military Farm Colonies (Arkansas Delta)

As the Federal army moved across Arkansas during the Civil War, thousands of newly freed slaves attached themselves to military units and eventually began to amass in Union strongholds. Helena (Phillips County) and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) were just two of the towns where Union commanders struggled to provide for this massive influx of refugees. As more freedmen arrived at Helena after it fell to Union forces in 1862, military officers worked to alleviate the strain these civilians put on the supply lines. Eventually, a program that saw some success in Tennessee and Mississippi was adopted by the commanders at Helena. Realizing that the freedmen were an untapped source of labor, Union officers east of the Mississippi River leased abandoned …

Military Farm Colonies (Northwestern Arkansas)

During the Civil War, thousands of Arkansas civilians became displaced and relied on either the Federal or Confederate governments to provide basic necessities. These non-combatants strained military resources, and commanders searched for ways to make these refugees self-sufficient. With many Unionist families in northwestern Arkansas, Federal commanders created a program that allowed groups to grow subsistence crops and work together to provide mutual self-defense from enemy units. The colonies in northwestern Arkansas were established around the families of white Unionists, while other colonies in central and eastern Arkansas were populated by freedmen and their families. By the spring of 1864, years of war had taken a toll on the agricultural output of northwestern Arkansas, and thousands of people were forced …

Moosberg, Carl Avriette

Cotton breeder Carl Avriette Moosberg demonstrated that advances in the early maturing of cotton were possible. His Rex variety, introduced in 1957, reduced expense for pesticide by shortening the time required to maturity, while offering disease resistance and strong fiber. The success of Rex encouraged all major cottonseed companies to develop earlier maturing cotton varieties. Moosberg’s research improved the economics of growing cotton in Arkansas in the mid 1900s. Carl Moosberg was born on August 24, 1905, in Tyler, Texas, the third of four sons born to Frank Olaf Moosberg and Anna Trofast, immigrants from Sweden. He graduated from high school in Wills Point, Texas, in 1923 and went to work for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in …

Muscadine

aka: Vitus rotundifolia
Muscadines (Vitis rotundifolia) are grapes native to Arkansas and other parts of the southeastern United States. The grapes have thick skins, large seeds, and a unique, soft, musky-flavored pulp. Cultivars can vary in color from almost white to nearly black. Common names for dark-fruited muscadines include bullace, bull grape, and Southern Fox. The term “scuppernong” is often used to refer to all bronze-fruited varieties, but it is actually the name of a specific muscadine cultivar. The muscadine cultivars most commonly grown in Arkansas for commercial juice and wine production include Carlos, a bronze cultivar that produces light-colored products and white wine, and Noble, a dark cultivar that makes deep-red products. Consumers who are accustomed to the unique qualities of muscadines, …

Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie

The Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie in Stuttgart (Arkansas County)—also known as the Stuttgart Agricultural Museum and the Arkansas County Museum—was formed in 1974 by two lifelong Arkansas County residents, Bennie Burkett and Jack Crum, in order to preserve Arkansas County’s heritage as a center for rice production and duck hunting. The museum is funded partly by quarterly donations from the city but mostly by yearly contributions from “the donor club.” Its board of trustees is appointed by the city council. The construction of the museum began after a nonprofit group of interested citizens raised funds to build a 1,500-square-foot building on the property of the city park. It was finished in 1974. Through the years, four additions have …

National Fish Hatcheries

Thirty-five states are home to a total of seventy national fish hatcheries (NFHs). Arkansas is home to three: Mammoth Spring, Norfork, and Greers Ferry. Arkansas’s role in the federal fish hatchery system—designed to conserve, protect, and enhance the fish population nationwide for the benefit of all Americans—is key. Arkansas is the systems leader in trout production, has the single Gulf Coast striped bass facility in the world, and engages universities in collaborative research efforts. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in the Department of the Interior administers the world’s largest fish hatchery system, comprising not only hatcheries, but also Fish Health Centers and Fish Technology Centers. Federal fish hatcheries trace their formation to a joint resolution of the …

Official State Grape

aka: Cynthiana Grape
Approximately 150 commercial vineyards and wineries have operated in Arkansas since 1870. In 2009, the Arkansas General Assembly took note of this agricultural mainstay when it designated the Cynthiana, a native grape, as Arkansas’s official state grape. Act 547 was introduced as House Bill 2193 by Representatives Beverly Pyle of Cedarville (Crawford County) and Kathy Webb of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The measure was introduced at the suggestion of Audrey House, proprietor of the Chateau Aux Arc vineyards in Franklin County, to draw attention to the survival and rising reputation of Arkansas vintages. Arkansas’s grape-growing industry is small, however, in comparison to that of such viticultural powerhouses as California. Between 2007 and 2009, acres of cultivated grapes ranged between 750 …

Ozan Lumber Company

The Ozan Lumber Company operated a number of mills across southwestern Arkansas from the late nineteenth century to its sale to the Potlatch Corporation in 1964. Two distinct companies owned by members of the Bemis family operated under the Ozan name. James H. Bemis and Benjamin Whitaker opened a sawmill in Prescott (Nevada County) in April 1891. In July, the owners incorporated the business as the Ozan Lumber Company. The name was apparently taken from the nearby town of Ozan (Hempstead County). Whitaker remained a part of the business for only a short period before selling out and embarking on other ventures. The lumber business proved to be successful, shipping timber on the company-owned Prescott and Northwestern Railroad. The company …

Ozark Institute [Organization]

From 1976 until its end in 1983, the Ozark Institute (OI) created job programs, provided advocacy for a dwindling population of small farmers, and worked to create community organizations and institutions to help alleviate some of the hardships of rural life. Toward these aims, the OI partnered with the Office of Human Concern in Benton County, led by Bill Brown, a longtime resident of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). The OI created a host of entities and programs to aid the Ozarks region in its short life, including community canneries, the publication Uncertain Harvest, seed banks, job training programs, and the Eureka Springs radio station KESP. The roots of the OI can be traced to the Conference on Ozark In-Migration in …

Paddlefish

aka: Spoonbill Catfish
Paddlefish belong to the family Polyodontidae and order Acipensiformes. There are six known species—four are extinct (three from western North America, one from China) and known only from fossil remains, while two extant species include the paddlefish (Polyodon spathula), which is native to the Mississippi River basin in the United States, and the gigantic critically endangered Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) endemic to the Yangtze River Basin in China, where they lived primarily in the broad-surfaced main stem rivers and shoal zones along the East China Sea. Paddlefish are basal Chondrostean ray-finned fish; they are archaic and have been referred to as “primitive fish” because they have evolved with few unique morphological changes since the earliest fossil records of the late …

Peach Industry

Peaches are grown throughout the state of Arkansas with the highest concentrations being in central Arkansas  (Pope and Faulkner counties), western Arkansas (Johnson and Franklin counties), southwest Arkansas (Howard and Clark counties), northern Arkansas (Boone, Benton, and Washington counties), and Crowley’s Ridge in eastern Arkansas (Cross and St. Francis counties). Peaches are most successfully produced on light, sandy soils with at least thirty-six inches of soil depth. Orchards are usually placed on locations with raised elevations to avoid or lessen the impact of incidents of low temperature such as frosts. Peaches were introduced as a crop in Arkansas after the Civil War, as were many other fruits and vegetables, during the New South Diversification movement in agriculture. This movement was …

Plum Bayou Project

The Plum Bayou Project was part of a New Deal plan designed to help rural residents receive federal relief and assistance during the economic crisis of the 1930s. Located approximately seventeen miles north of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Plum Bayou was one of several similar communities built in the Arkansas Delta. During the Great Depression, the federal Resettlement Administration—later the Farm Security Administration (FSA)—experimented with programs designed to give assistance to rural farm families. Rexford G. Tugwell, head of the Resettlement Administration, believed that sending farmers into the cities with no job prospects was an untenable situation and certainly no answer to the farmers’ desperate plight. Instead, he focused on developing resettlement projects designed to move farmers barely surviving on …