Just beyond the practice field at the Manlius grade school, where the Bureau Valley football team practices, is a corn field.
The plants appear to be healthy and strong, standing some 8 feet tall. It’s a place where Chase Gripp feels right at home.
Gripp, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound junior offensive and defensive tackle for the Storm, plans to make a career out of making sure fields like the one located next to the practice field remain productive. He works for the family business, Gripp Custom Farming, in Sheffield.
He works alongside his father, Chad; mother, TeNeille; grandfather, Robert; and aunt, Stephanie Wise, performing a number of duties. Chief among those tasks is custom spraying for farmers throughout the region, as much as 30,000 acres this summer.
There are herbicides to kill weeds, insecticides to kill bugs, fungicides to control diseases, and other chemicals to promote plant health.
“We put on a little bit of everything,” Gripp said.
Gripp is a jack-of-all-trades with the business started by his father about 15 years ago. He estimated he has sprayed about 300 to 400 acres this summer; done some mixing of chemicals; gotten orders ready; unloaded trucks; and hauled chemicals out to fields to be sprayed.
His work day begins around 8 a.m., after 2 hours of lifting weights at the high school. The business services an ever-growing customer base, as well as about 2,300 acres the family farms.
“We go until we call it quits for the day,” Gripp said. “Sometimes that would be 5 o’clock, a couple nights it might be 9 o’clock. It was however long we felt like going that day, and what we needed to get done.”
Gripp recently attended a conference south of Peoria, to learn new techniques about custom farming. Areas covered included being efficient when spraying, and making sure the chemicals are mixed just right.
There is a full-time mixer for the company, and Gripp noted that is one of the most important phases of the process.
“You’ve got to be careful, because you don’t want to use too little of a product and not get a proper kill for the farmer,” Gripp said. “You don’t want too much of a product, when you’re charging the farmer for a certain amount. You want to get right there in that middle.”
Gripp, an active Future Farmers of America member at Bureau Valley, plans to make this line of work his career. He plans to attend Purdue University, and major in agribusiness or agri-engineering, then come back home and continue to work in the family business.
“I want what we have going now to continue to snowball and continue to get bigger and bigger,” Gripp said.
BV coach Spencer Davis described Gripp as a “man-child” due to his combination of size and strength, and anchoring the offensive and defensive lines is only part of the story.
“People always talk about these farmer football kids,” Davis said, “and he’s one of those. He’s extremely intelligent, and he’s got a lot more going for him than just sports. He’s just a heck of a talent.”
Did you know?
Bureau Valley’s school district includes students from Buda, Manlius, New Bedford, Sheffield, Walnut and Wyanet.