DIY Netting


It is extremely frustrating when you are ready to pick your grapes and find out that birds have beaten you to the fruit.

Netting is one of the most effective ways to keep those birds off.  I use lighter netting that I can stretch over the vines.  If I stretch it tightly so that it doesn’t droop on the vines, the mesh is constricted in such a way that the edges of the net do not reach the ground.  But if the net is not stretched  the birds are able to sit in the loose folds of the net and easily reach my grapes.

I have two ways to deal with this.

I have steel posts in the vineyard to hold the top wire.  I take a 1 ½ inch diameter piece of PVC pipe about one foot long.  I drill a ¾ inch hole in one end and put a 30 inch piece of ½ inch plastic black water pipe through the hole.  I place the pipe on top of the steel post with the water pipe perpendicular to the row.  This holds the net up and away from the grapes so the birds can’t just sit on the net and eat to their heart’s content.

net support-01

I then buy a roll of plastic material used to hold large round hay bales together.  There are many thousands of feet of material that can be used for netting.  It is about 5 ½ to 6 feet wide.  I roll out the hay netting and fasten to the bottom of the nets stretched across my vines.  This hay netting is long enough to reach the ground, acting as an extension to my regular netting.  It the hay netting gets a hole from a critter like a raccoon it is not big deal and can be repaired or replaced with little time, effort and cost.

Not only can this inexpensive hay netting be used as an extension to regular netting, it can also be a good alternative for regular netting.  Keep in mind that several lengths will have to be used to stretch over a grapevine.

I have used this hay netting to hang from electric fences so that deer can see the fence.  I just used plastic zip ties to hold it to the wire.  This deters the deer to some degree since they will avoid obstacles they can see, particularly one that moves and flutters in the breeze.

If you are careful you can roll up the hay netting and reuse it the next year if it is not badly damaged.  If it is too far gone just roll it up and recycle.   But be sure to not leave any netting behind which can be wrapped up in a mower, that’ll just turn our little money-saver into a bigger hassle then you want!

DIY Airblast Sprayer


Air blast sprayers are an essential tool for larger vineyards, used primarily to spread pesticides over large areas in an efficient manner.

They consist of two major components – a high volume fan and a misting device.  Multiple ports located at the end of the mister allow for escaping liquid to be separated into smaller particles and blown in several directions simultaneously.  These particles are then driven deep into the canopy and deposited on both sides of the air buffeted leaves.

It is the only cost effective way to make sure all leaves and surfaces are coated with spray, and it can make all the difference when treating for fungicides or pests.

Traditional Air blast sprayers can cost thousands which can leave them out of the financial reach of smaller vineyards or orchards.  But with a little know-how, small-timers can have the same type of air blast sprayer for a fraction of the cost.

An economical air blast sprayer can be made by taking an off-the-shelf leaf blower and placing the nozzle of a small pump sprayer or electric tank sprayer in front of the air stream.  The air blast is uni-directional, but it has the same effect as the big boys.

I mounted my gas powered leaf blower by suspending it from a chain connected to a tractor umbrella, and I carry my 15 gallon electric sprayer in my tractor scoop.  The nozzle of the sprayer is secured to the underside of the blower with zip ties.  Then, it’s only a matter of starting my blower and setting the speed of the motor.  I am able to squeeze the handle of the sprayer and the spray is blown in front of the air blast and propelled towards my target.  I control the direction by moving the handle up or down or back or forth.  The tractor allows me to drive along and spray where it is needed.

On occasion  I am unable to reach some vines or apple trees.  When this happens I unhook the sprayer and take the electric sprayer nozzle off.  I then carry the leaf blower along with a small hand held pump sprayer.  I put the spray from the small pump in front of the blower and blow the pesticide into the vines or trees.

I suggest that you test your sprayer by putting cardboard into the canopy and spraying water to test the direction and penetration of the spray.  Water particles can be seen easily on cardboard making it easy to see how well the sprayer is functioning.

Using an air blower is an efficient and cost-effective method of spreading pesticides.  The job will be done quicker and with much less pesticides, since the particles of spray are smaller and penetrate deeper.  Be sure to read and follow your pesticide directions.  Take care and Watch out for drift.

This simple blower can be used by large and small operators alike.  If growers have a small treatment area and don’t have the resources  to start up the big air blaster it’s an easy solution, and one that won’t empty the pocket book.