UACES Facebook Arkansas Horticulture Discovery Farm
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Arkansas's First Horticulture Discovery Farm

Research-based recommendations and trainings for irrigation in specialty crops in Arkansas have previously been lacking, and horticulture crop producers frequently struggle with efficiently managing irrigation. In order to develop better irrigation practices for specialty crops, Arkansas's first horticulture discovery farm was established in 2019 in conjunction with Mark and Steve Morgan of Peach Pickin' Paradise in Johnson County, Arkansas.

Horticulture Discovery Farm Goals

  • Develop better irrigation practices for specialty crops
  • Provide specialty crop growers with an on-farm demonstration of improved practices


Project Leads

Amanda McWhirt

Dr. Amanda McWhirt

Horticulture Production Extension Specialist


Mike Daniels

Dr. Mike Daniels

Soil & Water Conservation Extension Specialist


Lizzy Herrera

Lizzy Herrera

Program Associate- Horticulture


Two mean wearing yellow button up shirts standing behind a truck bed filled with baskets of peaches

Farm Collaborators

Mark and Steve Morgan are the owners and operators of Peach Pickin’ Paradise, a pick your own operation with over 20 varieties of peaches and nectarines located in Johnson County, Arkansas. The Morgan family has been farming peaches and nectarines since the 1920’s and are well respected in their community and across the state. This made them ideal candidates for hosting a specialty crop Discovery Farm as they are already model growers who other growers look to as an example of success.


Man installing irrigation sensor into the ground next to a young peach tree

Data Collection

The two key areas being monitored at Peach Pickin’ Paradise were irrigation water quality and scheduling. The Morgan’s water sources are regularly sampled to ensure compliance with federal food safety regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Multiple moisture sensors were also installed in both newly planted and established peach trees. The sensors allow us to record and monitor water application patterns and scheduling as well as temperature, wind speed, humidity, and rainfall.  Plant tissue nutrient samples are also collected to see how improved irrigation patterns might impact uptake by the trees.







This project is supported by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture's

Specialty Crop Block Program


Logos for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Arkansas Discovery Farms program