Category Archives: Other

Swampy Brown Map sums up September in the Eastern US

Original article published by Angel Fritz, October 2, 2018

If you’re in the eastern United States you won’t be shocked by this article summarizing weather during the month of September. The seemingly never-ending patter of hot, humid days and nights have wreaked havoc on cool-season grasses. For the original article from the Washington Post click the link below.

A Night to Remember with Jim Novak

 When my wife Kathy and I were informed months ago that the TPI Board wanted to throw a goodbye/thank you dinner to acknowledge my retirement I was somewhat apprehensive. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would the food be good? Would anyone care to sit with us? Would I have to chip-in for our portion of the meal? 

Upon arriving at Morton’s Steakhouse promptly at 6:30 as requested, Kathy and I advised the hostess that we were there for the TPI function. She had no idea what we were talking about. We said, “Perhaps it’s under the name Reynolds? (Sandy or Casey),” she said, “No, we don’t have anything under TPI or Reynolds.” We were somewhat concerned that we might be at the wrong Morton’s Steakhouse, there are six in the Chicagoland area and I am noted for often getting lost. Kathy then asked, “Could it be under Turfgrass Producers International?” The hostess responded, “Oh, you mean the turfgrass people!”  

We were then led through several dining areas, down a dimly lit hallway, made a few turns and finally arrived at a room filled with many familiar faces. Greetings were exchanged. And after some friendly conversation everyone scampered off to a table for dinner. The meal was delightful and so too was the conversation.  After everyone finished eating Sandy Reynolds began what could be described as a poor man’s roast and I was to be the roastee!

Sandy was joined by Geri Hannah in recalling some humorous stories regarding a few of my misadventures over the years at TPI and everyone had a laugh including yours truly. 

Sandy had a half dozen blown-up head shots of me, all of which depicted a seemingly troubled soul, and had placed them on ping-pong paddles. She waved each photo and proceeded to describe my expression in each photo; it went something like this: “This is the not so happy Jim. This is the grumpy Jim. This is Jim when he’s in a good mood, I know it’s hard to tell the good mood Jim from the grumpy Jim, but that’s Jim.”  

After Sandy and Geri did their tag-team comedy routine, Linda Bradley advised everyone that I visit the old TPI office once a week to check the building and run the water. She then presented me with a few gifts from the board. They included a toilet plunger, a roll of bathroom tissue, a toilet scrub brush, a can of air freshener and a pair of yellow latex gloves. It can’t get much better than that after twelve years of dedicated service.   

Following Linda’s presentation, Jimmy Fox got a bit more serious as he kindly acknowledged my contribution to TPI, the board and its members during my career. His thoughtful remarks, the recognition extended to me, and the response from those in attendance was deeply moving.  Jimmy also presented me with a personal gift from the Board to show their appreciation for my years of service. 

At the close of the evening I shared a few light-hearted and personal stories and expressed my sincere gratitude to everyone for their thoughtfulness and told them how much I appreciated the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone in such a warm setting.

After Kathy and I left the restaurant we sat in the car for a while, we looked at one another and agreed, we’re going to miss working with such wonderful people. It truly was a night to remember.

TPI Sec-Treasurer Eric Heuver and TPI President Linda Bradley taking turns toasting Jim Novak

Turfgrass Producers help out after Southern US Hurricanes

 One of the farms that experienced temporary flooding was Doguet’s Diamond D Ranch Turf Farm in Nome, TX. Owner Mike Doguet is a brother to member David Doguet of Bladerunner Farms and Doguet Ventures. While much of the farm was under water, his warehouse facility was high and dry. Mike reports that his local veterinarian called and asked if the facility could be used as a staging area for hay and other livestock and pet foods. Even though Mike and family had to be rescued from their home by boat, the house itself did not flood, and he lost over 300 round bales of hay himself, he said, “Sure, anything we can do to help.” With the assistance of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service they set up a distribution system to accept donated hay and feedstuffs and disseminate it throughout the affected area. Mike reports that donations poured in from all over the country. In one afternoon alone, over 500 round bales were delivered from the supply point. Mike’s son-in-law, Matt Willey, reported, “There were trucks lined up all along the road. We had an assembly line inside the warehouse getting dog and cat food unloaded.” The supply yard was still in operation the second week of October, but was winding down. 

Keith Wittig, Central Turf Farms owner, is a TPI Board of Trustees member, reported an average of four to five feet of water over his entire farm. Some areas had as much as six to eight feet and some with as little as two feet. The entire area not only had to deal with the rain falling (about 25 inches), but the amount of rainfall caused the Colorado River to flood, adding to the deluge. The major flooding occurred three to four days after the 

hurricane. The rain water was being absorbed into the soil but with what wasn’t running off, the river flooding was too much. 

Almost all of Wittig’s employees were affected. There was a great community effort to help. All employees were back to work by the first part of October. Wittig also wanted to make it known that he was very appreciative of the TPI members’ outreach. On Saturday, September 2, TPI Associate Executive Director Karen Cooper, who lives in New Braunfels, TX, delivered 221 pounds of chicken, 20 bags of potato chips, 350 paper plates, napkins, and plastic-ware to provide meals to over 200 first responders in the Wharton area. Wittig says, “We have been really blessed. People brought food. Calls from all over the country offered trucks, generators, anything that we might need or use.” 

In addition to Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma hit Florida on September 10th, and after roaring through West and Central Florida it started breaking down as it traveled North and affected parts of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina before officially dissipating September 16. Central Florida turf farms received the brunt of the damage. Gary Bradshaw, our Field Day host last February at SMR Farms, reports that they fared far better than some just a county away. Some of the homes on the property also suffered roof damage. Bradshaw says, “We were really blessed, many people had it far worse.”

Betsy McGill is executive director of the Turfgrass Producers of Florida. She also reports that the damage across the state was sporadic. She said that there are two farms with potential total damage. She adds, “There is going to be a lot of wait and see. Lost production and harvest time was very significant.” Damages are still being tallied, but totals to sod producers will be in the millions of dollars. There will be a definite impact on supply and on timing.