MARK MORGAN SPECIALIZES in bringing customers to his farm
to pick peaches. “If they come here one time to buy my peaches,
they’re likely to come back,” he says.
The young Clarksville, Ark., farmer offers pick-your-own
peaches at his Peach Pickin’ Paradise, farming in partnership with
his dad, Steve Morgan. They also grow turkeys and beef cattle.
His success in those enterprises has earned Mark the Arkansas
state Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the
Year award. He joins nine other individuals as finalists for the
overall award that will be announced Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the
Sunbelt Expo farm show at Moultrie, Ga.
A farmer for seven years, his operation includes 423 acres, of
which 300 acres are rented and 123 acres owned. He operates
additional farmland with his dad.
The family has a long tradition of growing peaches. Mark’s
great grandfather grew the fruit during the 1920s, and his
grandfather established the pick-your-own and turkey operations.
A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Many of his peach customers come from nearby cities, such as Fort
Smith, Russellville, Conway, and Little Rock, and some from out of
state. “Our customer retention rate is good,” he says, “because we
make it a personal experience for them.”
The peach operation has 3,500 trees on 17 acres, and there are
also some nectarines. Pruning and hedging keep the trees small,
Pick-your-own normally accounts for about 60 percent of the
fruit harvested. With a large crop this year, he’s selling more to
grocery stores and wholesale distributors. He also sells some to
individual customers from his roadside stand and through a local
He’d like to increase peach production to meet anticipated
2017 Arkansas Farmer of the Year
demand from the Farm to School program. This past February
he planted 260 new trees, representing four promising new
peach varieties. He would also like to explore the potential of
strawberries as another crop to attract customers to his farm.
“We manage our operation to maximize production for our
Mark Morgan named
Mark and Shay Morgan.