Birds and yellow jackets

Ugh…Birds and yellow jackets have been destroying my pluots and (to a lesser degree) peaches.

It started with Geo Pride a few weeks ago:

And has continued with Flavor Grenade:

And Loring peaches:

The Geo Pride pluots were still pretty good. The birds would start pecking even when it wasn’t entirely colored. But large sections of the fruit would still be 18+ brix. But, the Flavor Grenade are getting attacked when the fruit is only 11-12 brix. Not much worth saving.

The Loring peaches are in the 15-17 brix range and very good, so I went and picked the rest I could find today. Only about 10 fruit hung long enough for me to pick them…

I think I’m going to try a different approach next year. Last year, I used a fine mesh net (from to protect Korean Giant. Normally, Asian pears get hit hard from both animals and yellow jackets, but I got almost 100% undamaged fruit. I used it on the Korean Giant again this year, though this time I thinned a few fruit first (and the late frost thinned even more, so hopefully I got it about right).

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The net seems pretty sturdy. There was one spot where a sharp branch went through. I used some reclaimed badminton string (nylon) to sew it closed today, just to make sure yellow jackets don’t have a path in…

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But, I think it could be worth a try to net the pluots next year instead. While I like Korean Giant pears, really like crisp sweet 20+ brix pluots. Hopefully the net doesn’t introduce issues with rot. I suspect that it may be OK, as the things would would break the skin (birds, critters, and YJ) and make it much more susceptible won’t have access.


Bob, that is a terrble amount of destruction. Like Tippy’s plums. So sorry!


I am setting up nets every day and suggest you stick to ones made for birds- cheaper and probably more conducive to air-flow. I’m trying to decide whether to buy a 1,000’ X 44’ roll from Midwestern Vineyard supply for about $900 which is cheap these days for that kind of coverage, but the sample they sent me shows it to be pretty flimsy although more than strong enough to keep birds out. I just worry about how much it will tear during covering and removing from trees. It’s designed to be used with a frame, not to tug over branches with poles as we do. As a two man operation, coverage is pretty quick.

American Nettings wants $55 now for a 30 X 30’ square and I can’t find a source of the kind of netting they sell in long rows for half that price per square when you buy a long row and cut it yourself. The stuff available now seems to be weaker and doesn’t have the stripes that help center the netting when pulling it over a tree.

I’m also hanging a lot of Victor reusable wasp traps. If you stay on it, they can lead to control IME, but if you wait for swarms before acting it will take a few traps for every tree containing attractive fruit and a couple weeks to get things under reasonable control.


I take it that is something you do for clients? Are you netting peaches and plums as well? I thought you only put them on cherries and blueberries.

That is massive! 44’ is pretty big. I struggled a bit with a this one and it is supposed to be a 12’ cube (minus the bottom I assume), so that would be 36’ x 36’.

How fine is the mesh? Even though it was a bit tricky for my daughter and I to get this one on, one big positive is that the net seems pretty tough and doesn’t really catch on branches. Open net’s I’ve tried in the past catch on every twig and I end up tearing half the tree/bush off when putting it on or taking it off.

I’m not sure my wife would agree, but I’m pretty tempted to just build a greenhouse. No need to mess with nets then :slight_smile:

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Last year I did use that Kootenay covering. It was a disaster esp. lasy year was a very wet year. The mesh was too fine and allow very limited air flow. Fungus was thriving causing damage to leaves and fruit.

I covered a Euro plum tree with it. Even before the end of the season, we had to take it off to safe the tree. My conclusion, it was not built for our humid east. In an arid area, it would be fine.

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OK- I guess I should stick with using it on Asian pears then. It worked well- no rot/fungus issues at all.

I guess that leaves me with a wider mesh net and wasp traps or a greenhouse (maybe a longer term solution).

Did you put it on something else this year? For the last few months it has been more like CA than New England. Of course, there’s no guarantee that next year would be like that- we could be wet again.

Even though it has been sunny and warm this summer, it was colder last winter than the 2 previous winters and I had a lot of dieback in my figs.

This is one of the few that had significant above-ground growth that wasn’t killed (and it is right next to a building):

Of course, having any in-ground figs survive our winter without much dieback and no protection is still pretty good compared to 5-10 years ago. I guess I can’t expect 10-15F lows every winter in zone 6B/7A :slight_smile:

Even staying in the 0-5F lets me grow non-astringent persimmons (so far- we’ll see if birds go for them):

I was traumatized by the damage it did on my plum tree (and fruit), I gave up on it. My pear trees are 10-12 ft tall so even if I wanted to cover the trees, they are way too tall to do.

We drove by your area two weeks ago. The area seemed to get more rain than ours does. At least two weeks ago. Before we know it, our zone could be zone 7!!

This past winter was not cold at all. However, a couple of potted figs in my garage died. One died to the ground and the was dead, done, gone. Very odd.

Bird damage has been noticeable this year. I think a drought has contributed to it. I don’t have a bird bath but put out several pans of water for them.


Check the specs

It’s just a matter of technique. Use two 2X2", 8’ long wood posts (available at big box stores) or plastic piping thick enough not to go through the nets (even thin poles can be thickened at the end by bunching up plastic and creating a bulb with tape). Lay out the nets on one side of the tree and lift the net over, each poll about 3’ on opposite sides of center of tree.

Takes us 5-10 minutes depending on size and shape of tree. You then tie the net to the trunk securely.

If you tear the net, just sew it up and as long as you don’t leave it in the tree longer than necessary you will get many uses out of one.

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Sometimes, my Clemson bags fell off. This year, if I do not get to it in time to re-bag, this happened. Just saw it this am.
My nectarines.

Glad to see you are able to grow and ripen those non-astringent persimmons.

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Another possibility is to put a slit in an old tennis ball and push that onto the pole. That was one of the suggestions that came with the mesh net. I ended up doing it and that part at least was easy.

How does the 3/4" net (per the link) do against non-flying critters like squirrels and raccoons? That was one big benefit to the thick mesh- I had no losses and nothing tried to get through it (as far as I could tell). I’m sure they could if determined, but it was enough of a barrier that they just moved on (maybe because there were other trees to move on to…),

We’ll see about ripening. I got 2 fruit from a potted Jiro last year and they were ripe in the first week of November. Very tasty- 18 brix, crunchy. That same Jiro (and another I got at the same time) are in-ground and both have 1-2 fruit on them again. I’ve also got 7-8 fruit on one IKKJ and another 1-2 on another (those 4 trees are at 4 different rentals). And another fruit on a Chinebuli graft (a different rental, along the building), though from a recent thread, it sounds like Chinebuli may just be a re-named Jiro.

If you aren’t planning to use it anymore, I’d be happy to take it off your hands. I could either protect a 2nd pear, or try it out on other trees…

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@BobVance what variety are your non astringent persimmons in the picture above. They look beautiful.

Squirrels and coons will both tear through any plastic net with ease and eventually likely will. I’ve seen peaches grown within chicken wire cages- that works, although a Texan woman told me that Texas squirrels will chew through chicken wire. Never happened to me in S. CA or here. Been fighting squirrels for about 55 years.

After a tough year with birds and yellow jackets I asked a very large orchard owner with a big PYO operation, bakery, etc., what he did about birds. He sighed and told me the birds get theirs and I need to roll with the flow. I estimate I will loose 10-15% every year until the trees get very large. He had the worst hit of all time this year - he had hail in late May and it marked up his peaches and apples something fierce - I would say 60% plus.

One thing to keep in mind is that Crows are typically the biggest problem and that they are vengeful and they pass it down to their offspring. Unless you can be out in an orchard 24/7 with a 12 gauge, leave them alone.

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Those are IKKJ (Ichi-Ki-Kei-Jiro). Here’s a pic of the tree (~8 fruit on it):

Note how bushy it is. That is because the trunk broke around 2-3’ up about a year after it was planted (2019 planting). So, it bushed out a lot.

Here’s another IKKJ at a different site which has a more normal form. Planted 2021 (3 gal from JFaE), with 1-2 fruit on it.

I’m sure they are capable of it, but until they do, I’ll enjoy the fruit from it. Hopefully they have enough else to do (as well as me trapping them) to keep breaching this net as an unfulfilled item on their to-do list.

I’m not even sure what I could do to the crows to anger them, other than yelling at them and waving my hands :slight_smile: Trapping/Shooting birds would seem an exercise in futility due to their long-distance mobility.

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Absolutely on the water issue. We had a spate of drought last month, and they got a whole tree full of green unripe apricots - the only fruit available then.


There’s an easy solution and it worked beautifully for me. You don’t need to put the net on the tree all season, just about 2-3 weeks before fruits fully ripen. The net is strong and heavy. It will bend some branches but not bad. It’s fairy easy (much easier than bird net) for one person to put it on the tree (about 10 minutes) but 2 people with long pole would be ideal (less than 10 minutes).

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Yes, we only put up nets at first sign of bird pecking and remove them promptly after harvest- as much as anything, to protect the nets from solar degradation. They are silly expensive, for some reason. The most expensive pure plastic product imaginable- that is, woven nets.

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