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View Full Version : First Post a (maybe dumb?) question; realistic acres per hour for ZTR


tlwmsu
03-30-2006, 09:58 AM
Not only was I a "lowballer" or "scrub" last year, now I'm thinking about diving in the deep end. I read this board last year and got very good info and advice just by lurking. Now not only am I toying with continuing the part time work, I'm also considering going full time in the next few years. I'm going to do things right, insurance, license, etc if I continue to do it. Now for my question.

Long story short...we are looking to move, and found a very nice developing sub-division (one house built, 4 more being built) with about 89 lots ranging from just under 2 acres to around 7 acres (of grass). AND 2 private grass airstrips totaling 30.75 acres. We will be finding out in the next 2 days whether or not our house appraises for enough to justify us moving/buying a lot, building a new house, etc. OK...the developer tells me when I told him I did computer stuff for a living, but also did lawn care on the side, "why don't you send me a quote for the airstrips?" Immediately (not knowing the surface area), I see $$$ and begin research on what size mower I would need...have a 38" rider, 21" push, so at least I knew that wouldn't cut it...pardon the pun. Then (duh) I realize I've got to know how big, how often they want it cut, etc. So I call the guy back...he gives me surface area, doesn't know how often to cut; if I lived there, they would tell me how tall they wanted it kept, and I would cut "as needed". Strips have not been prepped, and (I assume) the grass they want to grow on it has not even been planted yet. Tells me it would be late summer (Sept) or next year before it would even need cutting. Good grief this post is long. So, after talking to a couple of dealers (Grasshopper and Exmark), the local Exmark guy tells me realistic numbers for a 60" is 3 acres per hour. Exmark's 80% productivity says more than that (booking it around 10mph). So, in y'all's opinion, what can I expect realistically with a 60 or 66" deck? Also, per hour or per acre charge. I already know what I think my time is worth and will figure in expenses (fuel, equipment operation, etc.) When I know realistic numbers on that, I plan to go back this weekend and eyeball these strips, then hopefully talk to the guy some more. Whew...sorry my 1st is such a long one....

instyle
03-30-2006, 10:36 AM
very good question. Aslo, what kind of acres per hour could a 48" ZTR do, realisticly?

dcondon
03-30-2006, 10:54 AM
I would say go with a 72" we can mow, trim 4 1/2 acres in a little over a hour. That's using one 72" and 1 60".

CP Estates
03-30-2006, 11:00 AM
I am in the process of buying a Gravely 60" ZTR. The guy that I'm buying it from is a neighbour who owns the dealership and he claims that he cuts 12 acres in just over 2 hours. :confused: There are no trees and it is basically field.

24ON48OFF
03-30-2006, 12:12 PM
My concern would be how tall the grass will be in late summer. How did it look when you were there? If it is knee high in late summer dont expect to do 10mph on any mower!

This info that ECS posted looks like it may help you.

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=140184

This is his average time over a year I believe.

Runner
03-30-2006, 01:06 PM
I am in the process of buying a Gravely 60" ZTR. The guy that I'm buying it from is a neighbour who owns the dealership and he claims that he cuts 12 acres in just over 2 hours. :confused: There are no trees and it is basically field.

And if he's telling you this, then he is giving you the typical dealer/salesman line of BS.

CP Estates
03-30-2006, 03:05 PM
I know his place and while I'm sure he's pushing the truth, he goes full tilt and I'm blown away by how fast this thing cuts.

dcondon
03-30-2006, 04:00 PM
And if he's telling you this, then he is giving you the typical dealer/salesman line of BS.

YA, 12 acres in 2 hrs with a 60".:hammerhead:

Full throttle lawn care
03-30-2006, 04:25 PM
I have a 60in JD and it takes me 80min to cut 5 acres at a cutting speed of 6.5 mph GPS on average with flat ground. My mower has a top speed of 9.6 mph but feel thats a little fast to cut grass.

GreenUtah
03-30-2006, 04:50 PM
I am in the process of buying a Gravely 60" ZTR. The guy that I'm buying it from is a neighbour who owns the dealership and he claims that he cuts 12 acres in just over 2 hours. :confused: There are no trees and it is basically field.

Ok, this is a damn lie..just as it raised flags with others, it should you too.

Now, onto the original Q. The thing about the airstrip grass site is that it is very likely similar to reclamation areas and other such seeded , unirrigated projects meant simply to keep down dust and erosion. What this means is some serious rough riding. What THAT means is that no one will be going full speed on a machine that lacks a suspension and not expect to lose a few teeth before the day is over. Next comes the aspect of buying a machine that you may be able to only use a couple of times per year on a site that the manufacturer/designer of the machine may consider to be "extreme use". Where's the payback? I think if you had a machine that was inching toward retirement, ready to be replaced by a new mower because you had the daily accounts to support it, that would be a scenario that I would consider an infrequent, rough job like that, using the now-destined-"back up machine" that you have gotten a useful service life out of already. I wouldn't buy a machine specifically for that kind of job and you should probably focus your attention on jobs that can deliver regular and frequent service as you look to grow.

tlwmsu
03-30-2006, 10:06 PM
My concern would be how tall the grass will be in late summer. How did it look when you were there? If it is knee high in late summer dont expect to do 10mph on any mower!

This info that ECS posted looks like it may help you.

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=140184

This is his average time over a year I believe.

I have to be honest; I have to go back and do a real "eye ball" on all of it; we were too busy looking at lots, dreaming of bigger/better house, etc that I didn't even take a good look at the area they need cut. I plan to call the guy and go back with him this weekend, then give him a bid. Oh, and my bid will be worded so it is after the airstrip has been deemed ready for use...anything before will be considered what I would call "pasture" cutting and I'd definitely charge more for that. I am also going to put in a clause that my price covers mowing, trimming (around runway lights), and debri cleanup. I am also going to specify debri does not mean the 20" diameter 50' tall pine that fell during straight line winds! :hammerhead: Well, I won't be that specific, but you get my drift.

tlwmsu
03-30-2006, 10:24 PM
Now, onto the original Q. The thing about the airstrip grass site is that it is very likely similar to reclamation areas and other such seeded , unirrigated projects meant simply to keep down dust and erosion. What this means is some serious rough riding. What THAT means is that no one will be going full speed on a machine that lacks a suspension and not expect to lose a few teeth before the day is over. Next comes the aspect of buying a machine that you may be able to only use a couple of times per year on a site that the manufacturer/designer of the machine may consider to be "extreme use". Where's the payback? I think if you had a machine that was inching toward retirement, ready to be replaced by a new mower because you had the daily accounts to support it, that would be a scenario that I would consider an infrequent, rough job like that, using the now-destined-"back up machine" that you have gotten a useful service life out of already. I wouldn't buy a machine specifically for that kind of job and you should probably focus your attention on jobs that can deliver regular and frequent service as you look to grow.

Great points, but I hope the actual airstrip itself is fairly smooth; it will be grass...now, the sides/ends might be exactly what you call it, and I need to get that straight before I give my bid. What is the definition of "reclamation areas"; where some ground has already washed away and construction guys throw seed/bales of hay in to stop the washing? I don't think they could expect anybody to mow that...please fill me in, because I'm unfamiliar with the term.
As to buying a machine that I would only use a couple of times a year; again, have to get it straight with the developer what their expectations are with a height to keep the grass, etc. But, I think it will be more like once or twice a month during the heat here. He also mentioned possibly doing the common areas of the subdivision as a separate bid/contract. My mind has now thought if I had a 60+ inch deck, I could possibly get other lots/finished properties in that same subdivision (lots range from 2 - 7 acres). So, I'm thinking of trying to (if it all came together) to specialize in larger lots (not exclusively however) to find a niche out here.

barefootlawnsandlandscape
03-30-2006, 10:33 PM
When I was in the golf course business I maintained a golf course that had an adjacent airstrip we had to mow. We mowed it everyother week and the crew did not like to mow it. It was extremely rough and with a 72" out front mower took three hours to do. I would definitely charge him for it because most of the thrown belt on that Toro Groundsmaster happened while mowing that strip. JMO.

tlwmsu
03-31-2006, 01:01 AM
Let's say I go look at the areas, he tells me they will be at least relatively smooth, and I think I can do the 3 acres per hour estimate. Under these conditions, I'm going to quote $700 per cut. (55 per hour x 10 hours to cut, and 55 per hour x 1 hour for trimming/cleanup of any debri/extra clippings). 30 for gas and 65 for equipment maintenance and wear & tear. My guess is I won't be too high, but I shouldn't be low, either. I value my time, and if I ever go full time would like to average out between 45-65 (gross) per hour depending on the service I'm doing.

Now, scenario #2. I go look at it, it's rough terrain, and he says only the actual runway strip will be relatively smooth; the rest is pasture and won't be conditioned in any way. I think my price goes up to @ $900 per cut.

Please, be brutally honest; I can take it if I'm on one extreme or the other (too low or too high.) :confused:

Any thoughts?

olderthandirt
03-31-2006, 01:13 AM
It sounds to me that the developer might be full of BS and just trying to sell houses. Seen plenty of plans that included all kinds of nice ameneties that were never built once the houses started selling. Tell him you will give him a price when you see the finish grade and the type of seed they use.