Bird Netting 2023

One thing we have struggled with over the last few years is birds!  I used to think there were birds who ate bugs and birds who ate seeds and that I would only have to worry about a few species who like grapes, but it turns out almost every bird eats grapes!  Well, I guess I’ve never seen raptors or vultures swoop down and grab a snack, but I have definitely seen all other birds grab a grapes or worse, stab a grape to get to the seed.  One time I posted on social media a cute picture of a little bird nest with sweet eggs and pretty grapes in the background.  Someone responded with, “oh let them be, they’ll only eat a few grapes…”.  NO, they don’t eat a few grapes.  First the mockingbirds show up, then the cardinals.  When the rest of the birds in the neighborhood see the cardinals and mockingbirds, then they all descend.

So we have been netting the vineyard for years.  Unfortunately, the method we used in the past wasn’t working out anymore.  The netting was now being shipped on cardboard tubes that were too small to fit our custom net applicator.  Plus the netting was not a perfect solution.  The birds hung on the nets and poked the grapes through the netting.  So only grapes in the interior were actually safe. On top of that, the netting was disposable, but that didn’t seem very regenerative and clearly that’s the buzzword of the day.  (Make sure you have a cynical tone of voice when reading the word ‘regenerative’)

I browsed the options at the TWGGA trade show.  I studied pictures and I started thinking about how last summer, the bees & wasps were bothering folks even in the dark when we started harvest at 5 am.  Hmmmm, could we really protect the fruit from the wasps?

I hemmed and hawed and looked at the endless internet. I was intrigued about the bee netting, but it is expensive! This blog post convinced me I needed to make an experiment. Finally, I ordered  a roll of bee netting from Orchard Valley Supply.

I have been so pleased!  I ordered one roll and saw immediately that it stopped the bugs.  There happened to be a sale, so a couple days after applying the first roll, I ordered 3 more rolls.  This was enough to cover about 40% of the vineyard.  I will order more next year.  The rolls and shipping are relatively expensive, but these nets look like they will last a long time.  Now I just have to figure out where to store the nets in the off season.

netting is shipped in a roll and easy to roll out

netting is 17′ x 300′

side view

one way I might secure the bottoms

a frog is deterred by the bee netting!

sorry charlie! you’re not getting in

no grapes for you!

yet another grasshopper trying to find some food

even this tiny snail didn’t find a way in

vineyard panorama

bird sitting on the netting and can’t get grapes

End of roll-will pack it up this way after harvest

this picture shows how I secured the sides at the end posts

I’m pretty happy with my new netting!