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“Strawberries go well on a tobacco farm, but they tie up a lot of your time. It gets pretty busy when you’re trying to set tobacco and pick strawberries at the same time. It makes for some long days.”
On the face of it, strawberries and tobacco may not look like the best two enterprises for a combined fruits, vegetables and row crops operation.
Both are labor intensive, and the peak labor periods occur fairly close together.
But Frankie Spivey of Sanford, N.C., says they can be grown quite successfully in tandem. He should know: He has been doing it for 10 seasons.
How did he get into it? Back when the outlook for flue-cured tobacco — Spivey’s main crop — was beginning to look awfully grim, the Sanford, N.C., farmer started looking for another way to make money.
“I was just trying to spread things out and find something different in case tobacco or something else fell through,” said Spivey. “I was trying to diversify and also to have income coming in more of the time.”
Now, with a decade of experience to draw on, he thinks all in all his decision was a good one.
“Strawberries go well on a tobacco farm, but they tie up a lot of your time,” says Spivey. “It gets pretty busy when you’re trying to set tobacco and pick strawberries at the same time. It makes for some long days.”
There can be another collision when he sets the next year’s strawberry crop. That usually happens at the end of September and sometimes overlaps with the end of tobacco harvest.
He has three acres of strawberries this season.