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Netting Tight Enough To Keep Out Fruit Flies
Super fine netting from Berry Protection Solutions keeps out even tiny pests like the dreaded Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), a commonly-known type of fruit fly. They have devastated many soft fruit operations, including berry, cherry and even plum. Dale-Ila Riggs lost 40 percent of her blueberry crop before she discovered ExcludeNet from Tek-Knit Industries.
    “SWD didn’t show up in New York State where we farm until 2011,” says Riggs. “By 2012 it hit our blueberries, and we would have lost 90 percent of our raspberries if we hadn’t sprayed every few days.”
    Unlike other fruit flies that attack over-ripe fruit or rotting fruit, the SWD lays eggs in fruit as it is ripening on the plant. Emerging maggots spoil the fruit and prevent sales.
    In an effort to avoid constant spraying, Riggs started looking for other options. With the help of a SARE (Sustainable Ag Research and Education) grant, she tried ExcludeNet from Quebec-based Tek-Knit Industries in 2014. Over the past 5 years she has refined how she uses it. Today she has netting over hoops to protect a full half acre of blueberries and some raspberries as well. Benefits have been huge.
    “Four out of the past 5 years I’ve harvested my highest-yielding crops,” says Riggs. “Oregon and Washington producers typically have the highest production, and mine were higher. In 2017 I harvested and marketed more than 6,800 lbs.
Riggs credits the netting in part for her high yields. The tight netting with a single airlock entry door keeps out the SWD. She feels the netting also reduces weather stress on the plants.
    “We had no weather-related losses despite 3 hailstorms and multiple thunderstorms with high winds,” says Riggs. “The netting diffuses the wind and rain.”
    When the owner of Tek-Knit visited Riggs’ farm, he suggested that since she knew the product so well, she should sell it. She and her husband took him up on the idea. They are now the U.S. distributor. She sells mainly to market gardeners and professional growers. ExcludeNet is available in 6 1/2 and 13-ft. rolls of 80 gram per meter material. The company also makes a 60-gram netting for excluding larger insect pests.
    “The 13-ft. by 328-ft. roll sells for $550 plus shipping,” says Riggs. “Netting edges can be sewn together for an additional $220 per seam.”
    Riggs mounts 26-ft. wide panels over multiple sets of hoops to protect her blueberries. She uses wire lock channels and Spring Lock (wiggle wire) to hold the panels in place. She lays panel edges over the wire lock channels followed by a strip of greenhouse plastic over the panel edges before installing the wiggle wire to hold the panels and plastic in place.
    The netting has a 5-year warranty against degradation and weathering, but Riggs suggests a life of at least 7 years.      Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Berry Protection Solutions, 15589 State Route 22, Stephentown, N.Y. 12168 (ph 413 329-5031 or 518 733-6772; rberriesrgreat@fairpoint.net; www.berryprotectionsolutions.com).

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2019 - Volume #43, Issue #3