When protecting fruit trees from birds, possums and pest insects, there are two approaches – you can cover the fruit with individual netting bags as seen in our Product Review – Ryset Fruit Protection Bags, or you can cover the whole tree with netting.
Netting whole trees requires a very wide and long piece of netting material. Consider netting a small 2m tall x 2m wide tree. The netting needs to come up 2m from the ground, span 2m across the width of the tree, then come back down another 2m to meet the ground once again, requiring a 6m length of netting. It would need to be just as wide to cover the sides, as pictured below.
To cover a tree more easily, what is really required is a net pre-formed as an inverted cup shape with a door, as pictured below, and that’s exactly what the product we’re reviewing here is!
Ryset Australia has a range of pest deterrent and bird netting products, including the Ryset Formed Insect Net – A formed and fitted net designed to cover a tree. It’s 2.4m wide across the top with sides 2.8m high sewn around the circumference. The sides overlap 600m to provide a door for easy placement of the net over the tree, and easy access to the tree when fitted.
This product is constructed from 2mm woven, 45gsm white UV stabilised high density polyethylene netting. It’s intended purpose is to exclude birds, possums, pets and most flying insects such as cabbage moth, fruit fly and codling moth from fruit trees, as well as provide a 20% shade factor to reduce sunburn of fruit.
Where can you purchase this product? Ryset is a wholesaler which supplies the retail garden and professional agricultural industry, so for home gardeners the best place to purchase Ryset’s products is from your local garden nursery.
In Melbourne, Bulleen Art & Garden Nursery sells a range of Ryset netting and fruit protection products, for online purchases nationally in Australia you can also order from The Diggers Club or from Greenharvest.
The Ryset Australia Formed Insect Net is made of fine 2mm netting which is designed to exclude insects as well as birds and animals. I’ve been fortunate enough to test the product over several seasons, and it’s proven very durable, with no issues so far.
One of the great advantages of the finer insect netting over bird netting is that leaves and branches do not poke through the holes, so you can net a tree after it’s been pruned and the cut ends won’t snag in the netting and grow through afterwards.
The net is sufficiently large for any well-managed backyard tree, it’s 2.5m (8’) wide x 2.8m (9’) high, and as an advocate of backyard orchard culture and summer tree pruning, I recommend keeping trees low for easy harvesting and management.
I tested the net over a mulberry tree which produces giant black mulberries – and yes, they’re real and too precious to let birds eat as they’re totally delicious, and can grow up to almost 8cm (3”) long and weigh 11g (1/3 oz)!
The formed netting managed to protect the entire mulberry crop successfully from marauding birds, and because the net was tied around the trunk of the tree, it also caught the freshly fallen mulberries too. Some of the mulberries which were overripe did make a mess when they landed, but despite the reputation that dark mulberries have for staining, the colour washed out from the net at the end of the season without any problems.
The second test for this netting was to see if we could protect a highly productive Dai Dai Maru persimmon tree from impatient ringtail possums which would sample around five different fruit a nigh to check if they were ripe yet, they got through about 25 unripe fruit before I netted. Luckily this 2.5m (8’) tree had well over one hundred fruit left on it, which also raises the point – how big do your fruit trees really need to be? This one is big enough, I keep it at this height, and it fits nicely under the formed tree net.
I’ve heard concerns that possums might be able to get through insect or bird netting, but my tests conform that possums in Australia cannot get through this netting at all. What I did find in another area of the garden with different netting is that rats and mice can, so if you’re seeing holes in your netting, you have a rodent problem. Possums are intelligent enough to squeeze through and further open a hole chewed through previously by rats, but they can’t get through on their own.
After netting, there was no further possum damage, and all persimmons were successfully harvested, and with such a large crop, shared with friends and family.
Netting a tree using this formed net is a fairly easy task, with two people and a broom to lift the netting up and over the tree (easier than using a ladder) it takes about five to ten minutes, depending on the tree, access around it and the cooperation of your volunteer. It can be done by a single person, I’ve done it before, it takes about ten minutes in my garden with closely spaced fruit trees. Since it has an overlapping door, it’s best to lay the net out to figure out where the door is, determine which side you wish to access the tree from, and align the door on that side.
Removing the netting is a bit faster, use a soft broom to push the netting up from the inside to lift it off the tree to avoid tearing it if you don’t want to use a ladder, and it’s a job easily handled by one person.
The mesh is quite fine so it will prevent insects from getting to your fruit, including fruit flies which are common pests in the more subtropical and tropical climates. Obviously, if your trees require insect pollinators such as bees, you only net the tree after the insects have done their work pollinating the flowers. An added benefit of the fine mesh is that it provides 20% shade which reduces sun scald (sun burning) of ripening fruit).
For those concerned about indigenous ecology, as an added benefit, fruit bats cannot get tangled in the fine mesh, it’s perfectly safe to use where they may be present.
Ryset’s Formed Insect Net is a very durable formed net that is stitched together very strongly, mine is over three years old now and still going just fine. The insect exclusion mesh which the formed net is constructed from is quite strong and you definitely can’t tear the material by hand. This product retails around the thirty-five dollar mark, and can be moved from tree to tree as different fruit come into season, so you don’t really need one for every tree in your garden. All these factors combine to make it a very affordable solution for protecting fruit from pests such as birds, possums, bats and flying insects. I know that when I cover a tree with this formed net, I won;t lose any of the harvest to pests, and that’s reassuring.
This net is well designed to accommodate the size of most managed fruit trees, is easy to deploy, and easy to remove, and protects fruit to some degree from being burnt by the sun, that’s a lot of benefits to a gardener for little cost, which is why I can recommend his product!
Deep Green rating for the “Ryset Formed Insect Net” is 5 stars!
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