Save Seattle's Apples: how to net your tree

May 12th, 2020

By lisa

No more buggy apples! If you want to be able to harvest a large quantity of pest-free fruit without spraying chemicals, netting your tree is one of the most effective and efficient ways to protect larger trees.

 

When to net your tree

Netting can be done anytime after the petals fall, before coddling moths and apple maggot flies emerge. Make sure to thin the fruit before netting! Codling moths typically emerge mid- and late-May and apple maggot flies lay eggs in June. 

 

How to net your tree

1.   Get the net

  • Measure the height and spread (widest width) of your tree and figure out the best netting size using the Tree Netting Calculation Guide.
  • See this tree netting blog post for more info on how to select the right netting for your tree. 
  • If your tree is too tall and/or wide, consider netting section(s) of the tree with most fruitlets and installing the smaller net on an individual branch as if it were a small tree. You will still end up with plenty of healthy apples. See how Luke netted a portion of a giant apple tree here: www.cityfruit.org/blog/adventures-netting-massive-apple-tree

2.   Thin the fruitlets

  • Remove the excess fruitlets, especially lower, shaded ones, by twisting or snipping them off so each one is spaced 6 inches apart to allow for growth.
  • Leave the biggest and damage-free fruit on the branches.
  • If you have a lot of young vertical growth on the top of your tree, don’t cut it before netting! Use the weight of the net to bend the growth over. These bent branches will be more likely to produce fruit in the future. This is an extra benefit of netting your tree.

3.  ​Install the structures

  • Pests can sometimes lay eggs through the net so it is important to keep it away from the fruit and leaves. Use bamboo poles in different lengths to install the structure for your netting so the pests can’t reach the fruit from outside.

4.  Net the tree

  • Grab a friend or two and lay the netting flat in front of your tree.
  • Secure the two front corners to bamboo poles with a loose knot.
  • Use the bamboo poles to hoist the net over the top of the tree.
  • Lift and pull it down so it drapes evenly on all sides.

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5.  Close it up

  • Pull the netting to the tree trunk and secure with a stretchy, weatherproof tie such as bike inner tubes.
  • Use zip ties to close any gaps in the sides of the netting that don’t reach the trunk.

 

Also…

  • Leave the net on until harvest. Remove any fallen fruit caught in the net throughout the season.
  • When you harvest the fruit, try to harvest from the inside of the net as much as possible to avoid pulling off the fruit when removing the net.
  • After harvest, shake off any leaves, fold it up and store it for next year!

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Need help?

You know you want to net your tree but would rather have an expert do it? Then fill out the Tree Care Service Interest Form HERE. Installation service is only available for trees up to 10' x 10'.