Minnie Royal and Royal Lee Cherry Trees Netted

hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)April 3, 2013

Okay, sounded like such a good idea. And, pretty easy, right? Just buy a bunch of pvc, cut it to the correct lengths, assemble it and toss the netting over. How hard can that be? Pretty hard, actually :-) I did finally manage to get this all put together, but not without the assistance of my very patient husband. Wasn't strong enough to use the pipe cutter, since I bought 1" schedule 40 pvc, since this was going to be a rather large frame, I figured I needed a little sturdier pvc. So, had to have the hubby weild the pipe cutter, which he did with ease, of course. Then, trying to get this assembled was pretty crazy, since it is 7' tall, and I'm not. And, trying to get the pieces well enough into the fittings standing on a ladder on a slope, and using a rubber mallet. Well, you get the idea. And, then the netting. Would have been much easier if I didn't have closely planted trees right next to both cherries, as well as a chain link fence right behind. A zillion things for the netting to get snagged on. But, after about a week of working on it, it is finally up, and hopefully this will keep the birds out of the trees, and we'll be able to eat all the cherries. That the ground squirrels don't find, that is. Bait stations are getting filled this weekend, the annual battle to save the fruit begins.

Patty S.

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peachymomo(Ca 8)

Just this morning I was envisioning a very similar construction over my own cherry and peach trees, thanks for posting this because my bf likes to have pictures of what I want him to make for me ;o)

How are you going to get in an out? Is it easy to lift up or do you have an area where the netting can be opened like a door?

I hope you (and any lucky people you choose to share with) enjoy every single one of your cherries!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 11:19AM
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I too have to net my cherries or I get nothing. In my case it is tart cherries. I normally pound in posts in each
corner of the tree, then add risers to the posts using a large hose clamp. Then I stretch the net over the tree
and staple the top half to the posts. The bottom portion
of the net drapes on the ground and is held there with
stakes to weigh it down. In my setup, I can lift up the bottom of the net and put my ladder inside since I do not
pick the entire crop in one picking.

Your setup lookes a bit neater than mine. Here is a shot from last year.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 11:24AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

peachy, I have two nets set up over that structure, and they're clipped together in the middle. If you look closely, you can probably see the colorful little snap clamps. I can unclamp the front overlap, and walk in. And, we are not sharing this crop with anyone, how selfish does that sound, lol!!! I don't think we'll actually have enough to share. It's our first real crop, and I guess we'll probably get about 100 cherries or so. Both trees set, with the MInnie Royal setting a bit better due to the bloom time differences, but I was pleasantly surprised that I actually did get some fruit set on the Royal Lee. Thought it was going to be a bust this year, again, due to the nearly 2 week difference in bloom times.

Spartan, whatever works :-) I only had a handful of cherries last year that the birds did not find, so I was able to eat them all. But, not taking chances this year, with my first real crop. I'd be so upset if I got this far, only to feed the birds. So, it was worth all the frustration. I'm hoping I can save the netting for next year. Not sure how I'm going to pull off the netting and fold it up. Maybe with the help of two people on ladders, and then carrying it out to the driveway to lay it out, then carefully fold it up.

One thing I do see on the Royal Lee are what appear to be cherries, but they are very small, and a little yellowish. So, not sure if these will make it to maturity, and not sure why this has happened. Perhaps only some sort of partial pollination?? Not sure why fruit was start to form, then abort. Not sure if they will abort or not, but there are several fruit like this - much smaller, and appearing not to grow. WIll report back with more info as the weeks go on.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 11:40AM
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That is a nice looking structure, Patty!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 2:25PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I need to build such a beast! I don't have a pipe cutter, but a hack saw does the job.
I'm a fan of Whitegold and Blackgold. Also Carmine Jewel and Crimson Passion. I also have a Glacier, but like the Blackgold better. All are great cherries!

This post was edited by Drew51 on Wed, Apr 3, 13 at 14:37

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 2:33PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Well, if I had a vise set up, I could have used out hacksaw or pvc pipe saw, but alas, I do not. So, a pvc pipe cutter (not expensive) was the option. But, just didn't have enough hand strength to wield the cutter with such thick pipe. I have Carmine Jewel just starting to leaf out now, so we'll see if it will produce here in my zone, and have 3 Crimson Passion's on their way. It is my "big cherry experiment" to see if these lovely U of Saskatchewan cultivars will produce in my lower chill hours area. Thanks for you kind words, Nila. And good luck with your structure, Drew!

Patty S.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 3:29PM
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happyballz(9A/B Valrico,Florida)

Looks good, how old are the trees?

Mine only been in the ground for a year.

Any issues with canker etc.? You spray them?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 3:44PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

I planted them in February of 2011, so this is their 3rd year in the ground, 2nd season. No canker, not really an issue here for us in S. California. I do 3 to 6 dormant sprays on my stone fruits and pomes for fungal infections (PLC, Shothole, Powdery Mildew), and that's really all I do. I have not had any other issues at the microbial level. More issues with ants, snails (huge issue here), red spider mites in the summer, and then rodents of all kinds.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 4:01PM
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My wife calls this time of year the "annual swearing at the bird netting" season.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 5:26PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Oh my gosh, she's not kidding. I almost took a header a couple of times on the "ladder that shall not be used". I have a "No Ladders" policy in my garden, and I made this exception, and I know why I have that gosh darned rule. SO easy to totter over, when you're on uneven ground. And we old folk don't bounce as well as we did when we were in our 20's and 30's (or even 40's).

Tell your wife I'm with her. Many curse words uttered during this process.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 6:47PM
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I don't have cherries, and I'm not sure why they would need to be treated differently, but I just drape the birdblock directly over my fruit trees. It's very easy and keeps the birds out just fine. Takes about 10-15 minutes.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 12:17AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Well, because for some inexplicable reason, birds will zero in on cherries. Also, laying netting over the trees will not protect the fruit touching the netting, the birds will simply hang on the netting and ruin that fruit. Since this is my first crop, I opted to save as much as I can. It's not just the birds I battle, but the march of the snails, rats, mice, and ground squirrels. So, cutting one pest completely out of the equation is always helpful :-) I've got both Sluggo down and Deadline as well, plus the rodent bait stations get filled this weekend.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 12:32AM
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I've been using birdblock for years and have never seen or heard of birds standing on top of it. They hate the stuff because their feet get stuck in the holes. The netted trees/plants look like traps to birds, which are very intelligent by the way. I drape birdblock over blueberries in pots which have fruit that can easily fit through the holes and the birds still do not perch on top of the birdblock.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 12:24AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Well, I'm going on several other reliable folks' posts about birds still getting to fruit through netting, mrclint. Plus, I doubt trying to drape netting directly over the tree would have been any easier. Most likely much more difficult as I wouldn't have had the smooth pipe surface to slide the netting over, but would have had to toss it over the trees. Not the easiest thing to do with my trees being up against a chain link fence, either. I'm also using Bird Block because the holes are smaller, but the netting still would get hung up on branches of the cherries as well as neighboring trees. A challenge any way you look at it, but I think it would have been next to impossible to net the trees without the structure.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 12:44AM
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You're giving me way too much credit -- it's far less than nearly impossible. Like most things in life, it gets easier the more you do it, and you discover tricks and shortcuts along the way.

I've used patchwork pieces of old birdblock loosely stitched together with twist ties and it still keeps the birds out.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 2:22AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Hah, I don't know, mrclint. I'm only 5'4" and my wonderful and patient hubby is the same height :-) Trying to get netting over my trees which are 7' tall (and I keep all my trees to 7' or shorter) might be a monumental task without a frame. I'm hoping the birds don't discover my other stone fruits. I have enough of a challenge with all the rodents and snails. I don't think I could net them all, just the cherries :-)

Speaking of netting and getting good at doing something the more you do it: I was absolutely amazed at a commercial vineyard we say when we drove out on a trip somewhere (can't remember if I saw this around my area or up in Bakersfield). I saw rows and rows of commercial grapes growing that were all netted. They had a frame built right into the grape trellis that nets were draped over. Rows and rows of netted grapes. I was just amazed. What a lot of work, but it was done so well. I still couldn't help but think that was a lot of work. But, I'm sure worth the effort in some places, as birds can completely strip a grapevine in a matter of days in some places.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 9:38AM
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