A diversified crop and livestock farmer for 32 years, Carlos Vickers of Nashville, Ga., was born into a farming family.

He recently added blueberries as a new crop. With a good blueberry crop next year, he hopes to harvest a million pounds of the small fruit.

As a result of his success as a crop and cattle producer, Vickers has been selected as the 2011 Georgia winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.

Vickers now joins eight other state winners from the Southeast as finalists for the award. The overall winner will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.

He farms in partnership with his brother Lamar. And Lamar’s son Bradley is following in their footsteps. They farm 3,135 acres, including 2,535 acres of owned land and 600 acres of rented land.

In addition to blueberries, they grow watermelons, tobacco, peanuts, cotton and corn. They also have 800 acres of timber and 300 acres of pasture for their beef cattle.

Last year’s yields were impressive. Blueberries on 135 acres produced 7,000 pounds per acre. Watermelons on 100 acres produced 45,000 pounds per acre. Tobacco on 400 acres produced 2,500 pounds per acre. Peanuts on 600 acres produced 4,000 pounds per acre. Cotton on 700 acres produced 1,000 pounds per acre. And corn on 100 acres produced 180 bushels per acre.

The beef cattle operation includes 450 brood cows, 15 bulls and about 1,000 head of stocker cattle. “We buy the stockers in the fall and sell them in the early spring,” says Carlos.

“We mostly graze them on rye and feed them corn silage. The stockers weigh 400 pounds when we buy them and 750 to 800 pounds when we sell them.” He sells the stockers in truckload lots in a video sale coordinated by Turner County Stockyard in Ashburn, Ga.

His best farming idea, growing blueberries, was inspired by his wife Judy. Ten years ago, she told Carlos about the health benefits of natural foods and the antioxidants produced in blueberries.