Drape net – new hail pro­tec­tion for New Zealand or­chards

The Orchardist - - What’s New -

The Drape Net con­cept was de­vel­oped 12 years ago by third gen­er­a­tion Aus­tralian or­chardist Michael Cu­nial in Or­ange NSW. Af­ter suf­fer­ing nu­mer­ous hail events – some­times up to eight in one year – and not in a po­si­tion to in­stall costly struc­tured net­ting across his whole or­chard, Michael start­ing tri­alling ‘tree row-spe­cific’ net that was af­fixed onto the tree.

Tri­als and com­mer­cial use has shown Drape Net’s proven ben­e­fit of pro­tect­ing ap­ples and other crops from hail dam­age, as well as:

re­duc­ing wind and branch rub, bird dam­age and in­sect pres­sure

markedly re­duc­ing in sun­burn

su­press­ing growth

im­prov­ing wa­ter re­ten­tion

Drape Net is now used in all ma­jor fruit grow­ing ar­eas of Aus­tralia, in­clud­ing large cor­po­rate growers such as Mon­tague’s in Victoria. Drape Net can be eas­ily de­ployed and re­moved with the NetWizz™ ap­pli­ca­tor trac­tor at­tach­ment.

Fol­low­ing a ma­jor hail event in Nel­son in 2015 where ar­eas of struc­tured hail net col­lapsed and growers suf­fered ma­jor fruit losses, in­dus­try sales con­sul­tant and grower Bruce Gem­mell work­ing with Fruitfed Sup­plies per­son­nel to set up tri­als on 17 or­chards in Hawke’s Bay and Nel­son. Draw­ing on Drape Net’s proven abil­ity to pre­vent hail dam­age in Aus­tralia, Bruce and the Fruitfed team wanted to be sure that New Zealand growers had the same re­sults as their Aus­tralian coun­ter­parts, which in­clude no neg­a­tive re­duc­tion of spray pen­e­tra­tion and fruit colour­ing.

The New Zealand tri­als were ex­panded com­mer­cially for the 2015/16 grow­ing sea­son with 16 ha of tri­als in South Can­ter­bury, Nel­son and Hawke’s Bay and re­sults show all the above ben­e­fits were achieved in all three re­gions.

Rob Wards, Fruitfed Sup­plies Can­ter­bury area sales man­ager says: “Growers can now en­sure that their top re­turn­ing va­ri­eties will be pro­tected from hail and bird dam­age with a cost ef­fec­tive op­tion.”

Rob ini­ti­ated the in­volve­ment of Ti­maru growers Peter and Danny Ben­nett, of Waipopo Or­chards, in the Drape Net tri­als. They cov­ered seven hectares of Hon­ey­crisp ap­ples and be­lieve that there will be nu­mer­ous other ben­e­fits apart from the key ben­e­fit of pro­tect­ing their crops from hail. Al­ready they’ve seen a marked re­duc­tion in bird dam­age in one Hon­ey­crisp block which in past years re­duced their ex­port pack-out. Cur­rently, South Can­ter­bury growers in­di­cate that they will cover all crop­ping Hon­ey­crisp blocks in Drape Net next sea­son.

With a sec­ond sig­nif­i­cant hail storm ef­fect­ing Nel­son’s fruit blocks this sea­son, growers are also show­ing se­ri­ous in­ter­est in this new anti-hail crop pro­tec­tion sys­tem.

Other hor­ti­cul­tural crops such as blue­ber­ries, cit­rus, av­o­ca­dos and olives will be in­volved in the com­ing sea­son’s Drape Net tri­als. Drape Net is used in the Aus­tralian cit­rus in­dus­try for pre­vent­ing pol­li­na­tion in Sat­suma seed­less man­darins. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, please con­tact your lo­cal Fruitfed Sup­plies Ltd rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

De­vel­oped in Aus­tralia and now avail­able in New Zealand through Fruitfed Sup­plies, the Drape Net® phys­i­cal crop pro­tec­tion sys­tem pro­vides cost ef­fec­tive hail pro­tec­tion for a range of tree crops.

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