By Carol Mowdy Bond
The co-owner of Sod By Sherry, Inc., 17000 Foreman Road in Yukon, Brad Sherry said the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the family’s 37-year-old grass business.
Brad said, “We went from taking cash and credit cards in person to going all online with our sales on April 1 through our e store. We were busy in March, but it’s slowed down a bit. But we didn’t have to get rid of any of our guys.”
And for the time being, all orders and payments are processed online through the business website. When customers arrive at the farm, they may remain in the safety of their vehicles, and their sod will be loaded in a timely manner.
The business includes 200 acres on Foreman Road, and the family’s main farm near Calumet. Now owned by Dan Sherry and his son Brad, the family sod business controls every aspect of sod production from growing, digging, cut-to-fit installing techniques, and power rolling with a 1200-pound roller. They use strict quality management, technological innovations, and a strict “cut to order” policy, to ensure the quality of their sod. “We always harvest all our grass fresh to order. And we grow all our own Bermuda.” said Brad, a third-generation sod farmer.
The family’s customers are 50% homebuilders, 40% landscapers, and 10% sports field construction. They sell primarily to Oklahoma customers. But, they recently took sod to Brook Hollow Golf Course in Dallas, Texas. “We’ll send it anywhere,” said Brad.
“In a year, we sell a couple of hundred acres of sod. We’re unique in that we grow and lay everything. We deliver and install,” Brad said.
Brad, who grew up on the Foreman Road farm and attended El Reno schools, earned business and marketing degrees from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. “We mow twice a week. This is our 12th year to grow fescue. We seed the fescue every year, and have a crop in 10 months, if all goes well,” said Brad. “We dig up sod with Bermuda sprigs in it, and then sprig the Bermuda field. We typically have a 12-month turnaround on Bermuda.”
As for Canadian County’s floods and droughts, Brad said, “Grass will live under water for two weeks and survive. But the droughts are bad.”
“Tahoma was released in 2018. It’s our newest variety. We’re the only legally licensed producer of Tahoma 31 Bermuda within 125 miles. It’s even good on fairways and putting greens. We put in 3500 square feet in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, on the first golf course in the world that will have it on their putting green. It requires 18% less water than competing varieties. It’s very soft, and requires less fertilizer to maintain the deep green color. It’s very eco friendly.”
The family also grows and sells Palmetto St. Augustine. And they sell 9 Iron Astro Bermuda, and Palisades Zoysia.
Brad’s maternal grandfather, the late Virdin Royse, was born in a farmhouse north of El Reno. He went off to OSU and was there one semester when he was drafted. Virdin fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. When he returned home, he started farming. Known as a cattleman, Virdin’s land on Foreman Road, as well as farmland near Calumet, is still in the family.
Dan Sherry grew up in Ohio. He attended OSU, where he met Brad’s mother, Janet, who was also an OSU student. Both earned teaching degrees, and Janet taught kindergarten at Southwest Covenant Schools.
Partnering with Virdin in the farming business, Dan set out to produce a high quality of sod. Together they established their family sod business in 1983.
Through the years, the family has rounded up an experienced team. Vicente Trejo has worked with them for over 30 years. And now Brad’s son Ben, 11, is working the farm.
“He works really hard,” said Brad.
“I like making people happy,” Brad said. “And green grass makes people happy.”