Jeff Ittel - Green Prairie Sod

Diary of Jeff Ittel – Green Prairie Turf Week 1, August 1-7, 2011

Monday August 1st

To start the day we didn’t have any orders for sod. We usually slow down through the hot summer months, so this wasn’t too unusual. This gave us a chance to do a little sod install job that we had on the books. My guys got this completed before lunch. After lunch we serviced a cultivator. We have been using it to work the ground that soon will be planted in sod. We had a large order placed for delivery Tuesday. We decided to set up some irrigation in the field.

When the sod is wet it harvests a lot better. We got the water started around 3pm and it finished it’s run about 10pm. We’ll get a good cut tomorrow. We used a hard hose traveler to water this field.The field that we will be planting has been grid sampled (soil tested). This is the first time I have tried grid sampling. The test revealed we need 170 tons of lime. The fertilizer company started hauling the lime in today and stock piling it for application later this week. We will be planting 85 acres of a blend of Turf Type Tall Fescue and Bluegrass. While the irrigation was running I worked some ground with the cultivator. I drove over in the tractor a time or two to make sure the hard hose was moving down the field.

Tuesday August 2nd

We started early Tuesday to get the sod order out. We had to mow a pass down through the field and move the irrigation out of the way before we could begin to cut. We got the truck loaded up and sent out to Blue Ash. Mid morning I met with our insurance agent for an annual review. There are five people who work on the farm full time. My sister, Heather works in the office. We have three drivers, Jeffy J., Mike and I am the third. We have one employee who runs the harvester, Travis. All of us guys do the general labor that you would find on a farm. Mom and dad pitch in when we need more help. My son Joe helps out on the farm as well. He is at band camp this week.

Jeff went on the delivery. Mike and Travis set up the seed wagon. It is a gravity bed wagon with an auger mounted on it. We use it to load grass seed into the planters. The rest of the day they put a slice seeder back together.

Wednesday August 3rd

It was raining this morning. We ended up with a 1/4 inch of rain. We were standing in the shop watching the lighting when some young raccoons came running to the shop. Our shop is an old barn that we have actually fixed up quite well. We scared them off and closed off what I thought was their access to the loft. The next day they were back in. We’ll get them, I’ll keep you posted.

We had an order for Zoysia come in. Really tough stuff to cut. Looks great though even in all this heat. After the rain ended we went out and cut the order. The rain barely soaked through the roll. I wrote up some sod estimates. The guys worked on finishing the slice seeder. Then they started on the Brillion seeders. These are what we will plant with. They have cultipacker wheels across the width of the machine. These wheels press the seed into the soil. We need to change the amount of seed the machines put on. We switched the sprockets from low speed to high speed. They were set to plant about 25 pounds per acre. We need to get the output up to 150 pounds per acre.

Thursday August 4th

Harvested a good amount this morning. We sent out two loads. Jeffy J and Mike went out. Those orders came in kind of late so the guys worked on the side roll irrigation system. We use that in the bent grass lot. The side roll is stationary when it waters. We just hook it up to a nearby hydrant. We have hydrants and waterline buried on most of our acreage. We water out of ponds. When the side roll is empty we can roll it across the field. I have been trying to find a new muffler for our old Deutz trash pump. We may need the pump to transfer some water out of our holding ponds if we start to water more.

Friday August 5th

Ran our nursery route. We run this every Friday. We take sod to garden stores who sell it over the weekend to their customers. The guys serviced a couple of tractors.

I spoke briefly with our fertilizer rep. We spoke about the lime application and his recommendation of starter fertilizer. He was up at the Indiana State Fair setting up a booth. We’ll finalize our starter on Monday. Lime should be applied on Monday as well. At the end of the day I met with Jeff, he has been with Green Prairie as long as I have. He had been out measuring fields. We are going to be a little tight on sod supply. This economy has forced us to do some other things and estimating harvest has been tough to gauge. Fescue is the main grass I sell. I didn’t plant any last year but I moved 95 acres. Last year we estimated that we would move about 40 acres. We planned on planting some this spring but that didn’t work out. To wet then immediately it got hot. Not a good combination for a new grass seed stand, too hot and too late to plant. I’m glad we didn’t plant since the way this summer has turned out. Jeff and I planned out our final tillage before we plant. It’s always hot and dry when we plant but a good rain would certainly help.

Saturday August 6th

This morning I went to College Corner. I went out the back of the farm. I wanted to see who might be back there. I saw some of our neighbors fishing back on three of our ponds. We have five ponds on the farm that we use for irrigation.

Sunday August 7th

It is Oxford Townships 200th anniversary. We went over to the Pioneer Farm at Hueston Woods to check out the festivities.







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