So, our orchard is fairly young and we haven’t been growing trees long enough to get a decent amount of fruit just yet.
However, last year our neighborhood was annihilated by hail…was one of the most expensive storms in State history.
We, along with everybody else in our neighborhood, had to have our roof replaced. One of our cars now resembles a golf ball.
Just this past week, there were two storms that caused some significant damage locally, one to the north and one to the south of us.
This got me to thinking about hail protection and how we may want to mitigate our trees from any possible hail. For those folks that live in areas prone to hail, what have you done to protect your trees if anything at all? Or, do you just live with the threat in hopes your trees are spared? Do you have any photos to share?
Since we live in a suburban area I need to keep thing aesthetically pleasing. I was playing with the idea of using hardware cloth in some fashion. Maybe partial coverage over the trees so that at least some fruit could survive a storm.
Or, maybe just plant more trees with several varieties grafted to them to hedge our bets if hail does hit us.
Orchard or Home Orchard? I don’t see any practical way for home Orchardist to protect from hail. getting the bird netting on and off is hard enough. For Hail you need hail netting and a way to mount it. If you do go that route at least it doubles as bird netting and shade cloth depending on your needs. http://www.snow-fence.com/snowfence/hail-net.html
I had a hail shelter in Amarillo. It was hardware cloth over an area about 20x30ft and 8 ft high. It was protected on all sides as well so no bird damage. I don’t have pictures of that since it was 25-30 yrs ago but it worked perfectly. I loved it. Only thing that needed improvement was further enhancements for spring freeze protection. I was out there several times at 2am rolling out carpet during a freeze.
The other thing I used in Amarillo and since was 30% woven polypropylene shadecloth hung in an inverted V over each row of trees. That saved me some hail damage.
Now I have a greenhouse. That protects from hail, birds, and a multitude of other issues.
Large semi-dwarf trees are difficult and expensive to protect. Trellised trees are much easier. As I set here wondering how bad the damage at the farm was on the nursery trees, weatherman says tennis ball sized hail was possible in the area with 70mph winds. I hope to eventually get some of it netted.
There is no way to protect against everything but as mentioned trellised trees with hail screen above them are possible. I will continue to grow my big orchard trees because they protect against the deer and they are better use of resources. Tall trees produce more fruit in the same area as short trees.