Views: 1 Author: Site Editor Publish Time: 2022-11-28 Origin: Site
Is drape netting necessary?
Universities in several states are examining the potential for drape netting to improve the quality of high-value apple varieties, in a cooperative effort intended to ultimately boost returns for growers.
In New York, researchers have installed netting for hail protection to optimize high-density apple production systems and improve the economic viability of small- and medium-sized operations and at the same time demonstrate the potential of the technology for those growers. Michigan State University researchers also aim to protect fruit from hail, while in Washington state the focus will be sunburn protection.
“We might not measure the same number of variables, but what we measure, we will share, and we will analyze the data together,” said Karen Lewis, who heads Washington State University’s tree fruit extension team. “The good news is that we’re evaluating these in three different climatic areas and covering a lot of different varieties because we’re doing it in three different states.”
The netting sites, ranging from 5 to 50 acres at four farms across the Western New York fruit region, are intended to protect Honeycrisp, Fuji, SweeTango and Evercrisp trees from hail, according to Cornell Cooperative Extension specialist Mario Miranda Sazo of the Lake Ontario Fruit Program.
Among the things to be evaluated by comparing netted trees to control trees without any hail netting system: tree growth, yield, harvest date, fruit color, fruit quality and return bloom in 2019. All are employing white nets.
Since the over-the-row system can reduce photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) by a minimum and 6 to 8 percent and ultraviolet light levels, improving the light environment at the lower part of the canopy will be potentially critical for fruit size, color and quality in an area with cloudy, low-light conditions like Western New York, Miranda Sazo said.
For that reason, the researchers also will use reflective material under tree rows to measure direct and reflected light at the lower part of the tree, as well as fruit size, yield, color and fruit quality, compared to blocks without reflective material.
Nets will be removed before harvest and stored at the end of each row during the winter months, he said.