Bird Netting for Fruit Trees: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

A cherry farmer is using bird netting for fruit trees to save his crops.

Fruit trees are incredibly beneficial to farmlands, bearing abundant types of fruit that contribute to crop diversification, provide economic value, and, more importantly, offer delicious, sweet food sources to many. Unfortunately, humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy the juicy, brightly colored treats—birds do, too. While farmlands can cultivate certain crops to provide food sources to wildlife, birds can disrupt the harmonious growth efforts and potentially contaminate crops if not carefully deterred.

To safeguard fruit trees and other crops, farmers can turn to safe and reliable bird-repellent methods to maintain control of their farmlands. Bird netting for fruit trees offers a compelling option to prevent birds from consuming too much harvest and damaging fruits. And while there are many positive benefits to using bird netting, it also has its fair share of concerns.  

So today, we will explore the pros and cons of using bird netting to protect fruit trees and offer other safe and humane bird-repellent alternatives to preserve your harvest.   

The Importance of Fruit Trees: Safeguarding Their Growth 

While fruit trees can be an effective way to attract birds and unique wildlife to your property, too much attention could be lethal for farmlands and commercial agricultural spaces. From their deep roots that improve soil structure and enhance water infiltration to providing fresh fruit production for communities, fruit trees are a valuable contribution to farmlands that must be protected.

Further, they are incredibly low maintenance, as their abundant offerings can grow year-round depending on the location and climate and offer vast areas of shade to prevent heat stress in plants.

However, birds wreak havoc on farmlands, leaving little harvest available for consumption. Bird species like robins, orioles, and woodpeckers regularly eat fruit and target their consumption right from the source. Different species also carry many transmittable diseases, posing dangerous contamination risks to harvests. The crop loss alone could result in a significant economic loss for farmers, requiring additional harvesting and labor costs to regrow. 

Luckily, there are effective solutions like bird netting to help prevent birds from snacking on valuable property assets.  

Bird Netting for Fruit Trees: Pros and Cons 

Bird netting is a bird control measure used to protect croplands, buildings, and other agricultural settings from bird damage. The preventative mesh material can be made up of nylon, polyethylene, plastic, or stainless steel. As a common form of bird control, there are many positive advantages to using this prevention method.

A very large orchard employing bird netting for fruit tree technique.

Here is our list of the pros and cons of bird netting for fruit trees. 

Pro: Easy Installation

If you have a severe bird problem, you need a quick and efficient solution to cover your fruit trees fast. Bird netting comes in various styles and sizes, making it simple to drape over a tree to prevent birds from feasting or nesting in the springtime. 

Con: Time-Consuming and Potentially Damaging to Maintain

The process of covering and removing bird netting may be time-consuming if you have an abundance of trees. If let on fruit trees too long, the netting could stunt a tree’s growth or hinder existing branches housing valuable fruit.  

It’s essential to carefully apply and remove bird netting from trees to not risk damage and safeguard their growth for years to come. Consider only using netting for 6-8 weeks during prime ripening periods. 

Pro: Durable

With proper care and maintenance, fruit trees can live up to 20 years or longer. With years of a fruitful harvest, you need a reliable product built for longevity. When searching for the best bird netting for fruit trees, consider a high-quality net made of durable materials like polyethylene or nylon. You can then cut the netting according to your desired size and stake the ends to secure the entirety of your trees.

Con: Must be High Quality and Stored Properly to Prevent Tangles

Low-quality bird netting can get tangled, making its purpose unuseful, and risks the safety of birds getting caught in the knots. If not properly secured, bird netting could release from its position and risk tree damage. Further, the consistent reapplication and removal process could lead to wear and tear on the net if not stored correctly during downtimes.  

Consider investing in high-quality netting and stakes or support systems to install in times of use and high-quality storage systems to safely store your product between seasons.  

Pro: Cost-Efficient

Bird netting for fruit trees is a cost-efficient and affordable option for bird prevention. The netting is a versatile and reusable solution to protect large trees, bushes, or croplands. 

Cons: Initially, a High Investment 

The initial cost for bird netting depends on how many trees you have to cover. Netting is more of a long-term investment; however, a netting’s life span could be shortened if exposed to certain weather conditions. Further, netting could damage tree growth, resulting in additional labor and regrowth costs to repair them. 

Consider investing in high-quality netting from the start and develop a care plan to prevent damage and protect your netting from unforeseen weather conditions that could damage your products. 

Pro: Enhance Fruit Growth 

Fruit tree netting is small enough to prevent birds from perching or nesting in the protected area and large enough to allow sufficient sunlight and moisture. Most netting also allows small insects, like bees, to pollinate the fruit, resulting in optimal growing conditions. 

Cons: Unattractive and Must Use the Correct Sizing 

While bird netting helps protect valuable fruit trees from damage, they are inherently unattractive to look at. While one may argue that appearance shouldn’t matter if the harvest is protected, bird netting could cause more harm than good. As discussed above, when bird netting is not installed correctly or left on too long, it could dramatically affect the fruit tree’s growth and damage tree limbs that hold precarious amounts of valuable fruit. Further, if one does not use the correct size, it could prevent essential pollinators such as larger bees or beetles from reaching the fruit trees. While not every fruit needs to be pollinated, a lack of pollination could result in unsuccessful growth.

A bee pollinating an apple tree flower.

Ensure the bird netting used is the correct size and weight for your corresponding fruit tree. 

Pro: Humane and Eco-Friendly 

Bird netting offers a safe, humane, and environmentally friendly way to protect fruit trees without harming any feathery friends. 

Con: Harmful Risks If not Managed Properly 

Unmanaged or damaged netting could allow smaller birds to enter the netting or get tangled, resulting in injury or death. 

Inspect your bird netting regularly to ensure there are no holes or openings to prevent harm to birds. 

Alternatives for Safe Bird Control: A Humane Solution 

Bird netting is an effective and cost-efficient solution to prevent birds from damaging your property, but if you’re concerned with the negative risks associated with this method, consider one of the following bird control systems: 

  1. Hazing Systems: Bird control hazers are devices that emit a water-based haze into a targeted area to create a non-lethal haze or fog that impairs a bird’s vision and discourages them from entering or nesting in the treated area. The haze may not be effective based on the height of your trees and the limits to which your device can reach. 
  1. Sonic and Ultrasonic Repellents: Sonic and ultrasonic bird-repellent devices release high-pitched, ultrasonic sound waves to scare and disorient birds, preventing them from entering a targeted area. Certain species may have a limited range, requiring multiple devices to cover a sizable agricultural space with many fruit trees. Similar to a hazing system, this method may only work on certain species. 
  1. Propane Cannons: Propane cannons are powered by propane to emit single-pressure, loud sounds to disorient birds and other wildlife. The booming sound is designed to cover large commercial spaces to protect acres of farmlands.

While birds can be a menace to farmlands, risking fruit tree cultivation and growth, they are essential to our ecosystem. They can also bring many benefits to farmlands, such as consuming crop-eating insects and assisting with revegetation efforts on farmlands. As a result, ensuring their utmost protection is vital to our ecosystem.

At Good Life, we offer environmentally safe and humane bird and pest-control products. Our G5 bird and wildlife propane cannon is a premier choice for commercial farmers, as its explosive sounds cover up to 7 to 10 acres with a sound intensity of 110-120 decibels.

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