Arkansas Produce Shipments Changing with the Times

Arkansas Produce Shipments Changing with the Times

Arkansas isn’t known for its fresh produce shipments, but over the years it has had a significant volume of tomatoes for a few weeks starting in July. Some fresh items are declining while others are seeing gains in acreage.

During the past 15 years sweet potato shipments have increase, while tomato and watermelon volume is down Overall, there are mixed trends for Arkansas produce shipments including vegetables, fruits and melons.

The sweet potato gets underway about September 1st, with curing taking about 4 to 6 weeks. Shipments will then start lasting until the new crop is ready in 2020.

The USDA Census shows fresh vegetable acreage in Arkansas totaled 9,500 acres in 2017, up from 7,806 in 2012 and 8,782 in 2007.

The census notes Arkansas total sweet potato fresh market acreage was estimated at 3,492 acres in 2017, up from 2,757 acres in 2007. 

Arkansas sweet potatoes grown for processing totaled 1,106 acres in 2017, up from 369 acres in 2007.
During the same period, the census exposed Arkansas fresh tomato acreage dropped from 1,101 acres in 2007 to 952 acres in 2017, a drop of 14 percent.

For example, Harrod & Hensley Tomato Co. of, Hermitage, Ark., which grows fresh tomatoes in south central Arkansas reports the state’s tomato acreage could be down 40 percent this year. A factor in the decline is more market pressure from hothouse volume in Mexico provide increased competition for field grown tomatoes.

Tomato loadings got underway about a week ago and will continue until round July 20th.

USDA statistics reveal Arkansas watermelon acreage was fairly stable the past five years, but has been sliding over the longer term.  Watermelon shipments will occur from early July into the last half of August.

With 1,822 acres harvested in 2017, Arkansas watermelon acreage fell steadily from 1,880 acres in 2012, 2,059 acres in 2007, 2,267 acres in 2002 and 2,770 in 1997.

Arkansas fresh vegetable acreage in 2017, with percent change compared with 2012:

  • Snap beans: 107 acres harvested in 2017, up 73 percent from 2012;
  • Cantaloupes: 56 acres in 2017, down 53 percent from 2012.
  • Cucumbers: 115 acres in 2017, up 15 percent from 2012;
  • Lettuce: 30 acres in 2017, up 76 percent from 2012;
  • Leaf lettuce: 21 acres in 2017, up 75 percent from 2012;
  • Mustard greens: 68 acres in 2017, up 89 percent from 2012;
  • Okra: 74 acres in 2017, up 155 percent from 2012;
  • Southern peas: 260 acres in 2017, down 58 percent from 2007; and
  • Pumpkins: 363 acres in 2017, down 15 percent from 2012. 

Fruits and Nuts

Arkansas apple volume has declined, shipments for the state’s grapes and pecans has risen in the past 5 years.

The Ag Census show non-citrus fruit bearing acreage totaled 1,542 acres in 2017, up 8 percent from 1,429 acres in 2012 but off 33 percent from 2007.

Bearing and non-bearing acres of apples totaled 283 acres in 2017, off 4 percent from 296 in 2012 and sharply down from 1,048 acres in 1997.

Bearing and non-bearing acreage of grapes totaled 956 acres in 2017, up 4 percent from 2012 and 28 percent higher than 2007.

For peaches, the 2017 Census of Agriculture reported 669 acres in 2017, down 1 percent from 2012 and off a whopping 75 percent from 2,816 acres in 1997.

The Census of Agriculture reports pecans are expanding in Arkansas. For 2017, bearing and non-bearing acreage of pecans reached 15,736 acres, up 36 percent from 11,591 acres in 2012 and 71 percent higher than 9,185 acres in 1997.

Blackberry acreage in Arkansas was reported at 501 acres in 2017, up 4 percent from 480 acres in 2012. Blueberry acreage in 2017 totaled 356 acres in 2017; no comparisons were available for previous years.