When my Beloved and I returned to northwest Arkansas in 1977, I recall the proliferation of apple (and peach) orchards throughout the region. Since about the early 1800s when farmers first began cultivating apples in the state, orchards multiplied. With its favorable climate (situated on a plateau), the northwest corner of the state became the dominant region for apple production.
By some estimates in the early 1900s, over 4 million apple trees were growing in the state’s two northwest counties (Benton and Washington), more than any other two counties in the US. The acreage in Benton County alone was estimated to be around 40,000 acres in 1900. In 1901, the apple-blossom was adopted as the official state flower.
Over the years, both apple and peach orchards have decreased in number. Fungal diseases and insect infestations often damaged or decimated the yearly harvests. After repeated weather events during the late 1970s and early 1980s, some of the apple growers in our area had simply been battered too hard to survive. In addition, I think (my personal conjecture) they were able to make better money selling the orchard properties to developers. All the growth in the area called for additional housing and rural farms were converted to subdivisions. Continue reading “Advent of the Pink Lady”