( File photo )

Ample rain and cool nights have characterized spring weather, but Arkansas produce marketers say they expect 2019 crop prospects to be solid this year.

Sweet corn harvest is expected to begin about June 28 for the Bootheel region in the northeast part of Arkansas and southeast Missouri, said Tim Fox, sales representative for Schmieding Produce, Springdale, Ark. 

Meanwhile, Larry Chapman, grower relations and sales representative for Schmieding Produce, said watermelon harvest in the northeast part of the state was expected to begin in early July and continue through mid- to late August.

Cool nights have held back the maturity of Arkansas tomatoes this year, said Michael Hensley, owner of Harrod & Hensley Tomato Co., Hermitage, Ark. The crop is healthy, however, and harvest is anticipated to start about June 10 and run until about July 20.

Arkansas tomato acreage could be down 40% this year, as increasing pressure from hothouse production in Mexico has dimmed prospects for field-grown tomatoes, he said.

Autumn Campbell, sales manager for Wynne, Ark.-based Matthews Ridgeview Farms, said planting of sweet potatoes was about ready to start in northeast Arkansas in mid-May, despite ample recent rains that have delayed field work.

Harvest of new crop sweet potatoes typically starts about Sept. 1, and the curing process for newly harvested potatoes takes four to six weeks. Storage inventories are expected to last until the new season crop begins.

Promotion efforts

A variety of promotions support fruit and vegetable marketing in the state. 

The Arkansas Grown program, administered through the Arkansas Agriculture Department, started in 2012 to help promote the marketing of agricultural products grown in Arkansas. 

In addition, the Arkansas Agriculture Department in 2015 adopted the national Homegrown by Heroes branding program that allows farmer veterans to market their local agricultural products by labeling them as veteran-produced.

Both programs has a search page for consumers to find producers: www.arkansasgrown.org.