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Protective Netting Stops Hail Damage
After hail ruined 4 apple crops in 7 years, the owners of Chazy Orchards in New York figured there had to be a way to protect crops. During a trip to New Zealand, they found one. It works so well that they recently became North American distributors for Drape Net® crop protection netting.
  “We were blown away by the simplicity of it,” says Helen Giroux-Taylor at Chazy Orchards. “Drape Net goes on after bloom when the last petal falls and bees have pollinated, and stays on all summer until you’re ready to harvest.”
  Because of the way it drapes over the tree branches, hail bounces off the netting, which greatly minimizes damage.
  Giroux-Taylor notes that they didn’t have hail at their orchard last year, but an orchard 15 miles from them did. “They were thrilled with the results,” she says.
  Besides hail, the system protects trees and fruit from sunburn, birds, bats, insects and wind, and it also reduces evaporation of moisture. Yet they can still spray trees through the netting.  
  Chazy Orchards uses white netting with 12 to 15 percent shade for red apples, but green netting with 15 to 18 percent shade and black netting with 18 to 21 percent shade can be used for other crops in different regions.
  The key to easy installation is the implement designed to place the netting over the trees. The 3-pt. mounted machine runs off tractor hydraulics to unroll netting onto trees and to reroll it at the end of the season. The netting is secured with zip ties to branches about every 20 ft. The system can be put in place on about 10 acres/day.
  The ties can be cut if pruning needs to be done during the growing season. Or, narrower netting can be used so the whole tree isn’t covered.
  “It comes in widths from 12 to 36 ft.,” Giroux-Taylor says. “The netting we use comes 3/4 of the way down the tree.”
  The UV-stabilized netting should last at least 10 years. At the end of each season, the spools of netting are wrapped in UV-plastic, capped and left at the end of a row to be used the following year.
  “Drape Net is recommended only on mature trees since the netting slows down the growth of young trees,” says Giroux-Tayler.
  She invites interested growers to contact her for Drape Net pricing and availability for future seasons. A variety of fruit growers and even blueberry growers have expressed interest. Due to shipping costs, there is a 10-acre minimum.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Drape Net North America, 8957 State Rt. 9, Chazy, N.Y. 12921 (ph 518 593-3600; www.drapenetnorthamerica.com; hgiroux@drapenetnorthamerica.com).

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #2