Fruit
Research
Station

Research Focus

 

The Fruit Research Station is dedicated to fruit variety and best management practices development, principally for blackberries, peaches/nectarines, bunch and muscadine grapes, and blueberries. The fruit breeding program includes active crossing and selection in blackberries, peaches/nectarines, and muscadine grapes; selection testing of the table and wine grapes, blueberries, and apples; and variety testing and evaluations of peaches/nectarines, muscadine grapes, blueberries, pecans, and hops. The Station’s cultural management research is focused on trellising, high tunnels, cover crops, and pest research on weed control and integrated pest management. The Station is also the supporting location for molecular investigations of a range of fruit species.

 

Facts

  • Located on 210 acres in Johnson County along State Highway 818 near Clarksville
  • Unique microclimate with an elevation of 800 to 950 ft
  • Topography is steep (8 to 20%) and soils are gravelly or stony with sandy loam texture comprised of soils mapped as the Linker and Mountainburg series and Nella-Enders Association.
  • Prominent role in developing and releasing public varieties including 19 blackberry, 3 blueberry, 6 nectarine, 10 peach, 4 ornamental peach/nectarine, and 16 grape varieties
  • Prominent role in developing breeding germplasm used in other commercial developments of over 20 additional products

 

Resources

  • Staff consists of the resident director, administrative assistant, pesticide technician, 2 research associates, 2 full-time research technicians, and 3 full-time farm employees
  • Meeting facility with seating for 150
  • Irrigation ponds of 5.5 and 1.5 acres at the main farm
  • Two greenhouses (3,216 sq. ft.), shade house (924 sq. ft.), and head house
  • Two high-tunnel production facilities (4,656 sq. ft.)
  • 270 row feet of rotating cross-arm trellis system production
  • Two laboratories (473 sq. ft.) for analyzing fruit

 

History

The Johnson County Peach Growers Association and Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation initiated the Peach Substation in 1948 to focus on research to benefit the substantial peach industry in the Arkansas River Valley. The original property consisted of 40 acres leased near Lamar, but construction of Interstate 40 forced the relocation in 1959 to 50 acres on Red Lick Mountain. In 1965, another 160 acres with irrigation ponds was purchased to facilitate expanded breeding effort. The Fruit Research Station name was adopted to reflect the expansion of research to include grapes, blackberries, blueberries, and tree fruits.