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How to choose the appropriate trellis netting for your crop needs: the three types of netting and how to use them

There are many types of trellis available for supporting vegetable and flower crops.  Let’s see which is the appropriate one.

We are now convinced about the financial benefits that come from reducing physical contact with plants and of the phytosanitary benefits associated with decreasing the number of phytopathogens, all results of trellising the crop, and we realized that the method of using plastic or cotton twine is much more expensive due to its rapid turnover.  Now comes the more difficult part:  choosing which type of trellis netting I really need and then beginning to benefit from it.

There are basically three types of trellis netting available on the market:  HORTOMALLAS extruded polypropylene, which is available with either 25x25cm (10×10 inches) squares or with 15x17cm (6×6.5 inches) squares (HORTOFLOR or MALLAJUANA);  TRICOLOR, which is a knotted netting made from a very tough cord of polyethylene that is ideal for vertical trellis;  and HORTOFLOR-T which is a woven netting (no knots) made of nylon or polyester and, even though it is the most costly of all the options presented here, its very soft, round strands do no damage to the plant’s stems and this makes it the best option for, and it gets used exclusively for, installing multiple horizontal layers above the beds of flowers for cutting.

A diversity of trellis netting for different crops and needs
A diversity of trellis netting for different crops and needs

The characteristic that these products have in common is their white color (so that they are more visible during the early daylight hours when other colors are more prone to accidental cutting) and the addition of antioxidant polymers for protection against ultraviolet rays, which extends the life of these trellis nettings when used out in the open.

Talking about durability, the HORTOMALLA, HORTOFLOR, and MALLAJUANA extruded trellis netting will last 3 years or more out in the open with good care and without exposure to ag chemicals that can shorten their life.  The TRICOLOR, being thinner (and more economical) will last up to 18 months out in the open.  The HORTOFLOR-T netting will last between 18 and 24 months.  When these products are used in shade houses or greenhouses their life expectancy can increase by 50%.

Chemicals that reduce the useful life of polypropylene trellis netting:

Chlorosulfuric acid and oleums, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen peroxide, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, liquid bromine and any of its derivatives.

Some reduction in the resistance to traction and an increase in flexibility and elongation to the breaking point can be expected, depending on the nature and quantity of the substance that was absorbed.

Which trellis netting do I need for my produce crops:

TRELLISING TOMATOES:  depending on the variety that is planted, a support on both sides could be needed which could vary from one meter (just over a yard), in the case of husk tomatoes, up to 2 meters (6.5 feet), in the case of some semi undetermined varieties grown out in the open (Mexico).  For this there is the extruded HORTOMALLAS that comes in widths of 1m (39 inches), 1.5m (59 inches), or 2m (79 inches) all with 25x25cm (10×10 inches) squares (which is used more than than the 15x17cm (6×6.5 inches) squares).  If preferred, the tomato crop can be supported using the trellis netting in multiple horizontal layers, allowing a length of the netting to hang down from the sides of the row, giving support to the stems that grow outward.

As was mentioned before, reducing the amount of contact between the plant and the worker increases the crop’s profitability since the plant becomes unproductive for several days (after having stems moved around to train them to a trellis) until it can reorient its foliage toward the sun again for more efficient photosynthesis.

For chilis, peppers, and egg plants, the growing methods are very similar to those for tomatoes and thus the same types of trellis netting can be used.

CUCUMBERS:  In the case of cucurbitaceae, especially cucumbers, but also chayotes, cantaloupes, and even watermelons only a single panel of trellis netting support will be needed.  One option is HORTOMALLAS  with 25x25cm (10×10 inches) squares– most common–or with 15x17cm (6×6.5 inches) squares.  This type is used because of the ease with which it is picked up again, cleaned, and reused for a number of years.  The other option is TRICOLOR which is an economical netting that can be reused for several crop cycles but only when it is left intact on the posts.  This trellis netting is a common option for crops out in the open where the plan is to alternate and rotate crop varieties and where salvaging the netting is not important due to the cost of gathering it up being more than putting up a new one, or, as is often the case, where for phytosanitary considerations (for example, a viral or bacterial attack that could contaminate the following crop), it is preferred to destroy all that might have been in contact with the previous crop.

tomato cages with HORTOMALLAS trellis netting

tomato cages with HORTOMALLAS trellis netting

The TRICOLOR trellis netting when used for tomatoes gets used on both sides of the plant pretty much the same way as twine for trellising except much less training of the plant to the trellis netting is required because of its squared pattern as opposed to the open vertical zigzag pattern when twine is used.

As was mentioned before, reducing the amount of contact between the plant and the worker increases the crop’s profitability since the plant becomes unproductive for several days (after having stems moved around to train them to a trellis) until it can reorient its foliage toward the sun again for more efficient photosynthesis.

For chilis, peppers, and egg plants, the growing methods are very similar to those for tomatoes and thus the same types of trellis netting can be used.

CUCUMBERS:  In the case of cucurbitaceae, especially cucumbers, but also chayotes, cantaloupes, and even watermelons only a single panel of trellis netting support will be needed.  One option is HORTOMALLAS  with 25x25cm (10×10 inches) squares– most common–or with 15x17cm (6×6.5 inches) squares.  This type is used because of the ease with which it is picked up again, cleaned, and reused for a number of years.  The other option is TRICOLOR which is an economical netting that can be reused for several crop cycles but only when it is left intact on the posts.  This trellis netting is a common option for crops out in the open where the plan is to alternate and rotate crop varieties and where salvaging the netting is not important due to the cost of gathering it up being more than putting up a new one, or, as is often the case, where for phytosanitary considerations (for example, a viral or bacterial attack that could contaminate the following crop), it is preferred to destroy all that might have been in contact with the previous crop.


Cucumbers, being of the cucurbtacea family, benefit greatly by being trained to cucumber netting

Cucumbers, being of the cucurbtacea family, benefit greatly by being trained to cucumber netting

For cucumbers the desirable trellis netting width is 1.5 or 2m (59 or 79 inches), but one has to remember that the cucumber netting gets placed 20 or 30 cm (8 or 12 inches) above ground level, creating a trellis height greater than the width of the netting.  Remember to take this into account when selecting posts or stakes.  Deciding on the size of the end posts for each row is of equal importance since the land contour, prevailing winds, and crop weight will dictate more or less spacing between posts in the row to support the selected netting.

LEGUMES:  the more common legumes for eating as fresh produce are string beans, other varieties of beans, and peas or chick peas among others.                                                                                                           All that these need is provided by HORTOMALLAS or TRICOLOR.  The option of using a double vertical trellis panel is taken in the case of better paying crops like oriental varieties such as snow peas or snap peas where the double cost will be more beneficial.  In most cases the plant’s tendrils are the plant’s own fasteners.  The double panel is used for varieties that are more susceptible to the transmission of diseases by physical contact or if training the plant by hand might cause drastic drop off in production because of stress.  Panel widths that are used are 1.5 or 2m (59 or 79 inches), but one needs to remember that they are installed 20 or 30 cm (8 or 12 inches) above ground level of the row because the plant can train itself and the posts need to be longer than the panel width.

A crop of peas with a double panel configuration of HORTOMALLAS extruded trellis netting

A crop of peas with a double panel configuration of HORTOMALLAS extruded trellis netting

FLOWERS for cutting:  growing flowers for cutting is where HORTOFLOR really distinguishes itself in any of its presentations and where there is more margin, allowing for for selection of inputs with higher quality and cost, such as HORTOFLOR-T, which, thanks to its soft, round strands, does not damage stems that might come into contact with the netting.  In beds of flowers for cutting, the netting gets installed in multiple horizontal layers, allowing the flowers to be supported at different heights.

A system like this is of utmost importance for flowers like carnations, gladiolus, snap dragons, chrysanthemums, and roses.  The first layer gets put in upon transplanting the plant or cutting  and successive layers get put in as the plant gains strength and accelerates in growth.  The HORTOFLOR-T is quite a bit more expensive than the extruded versions, but, in the case of crops with high added value where the perfect flower is required, many prefer it.

In the case of the extruded HORTOFLOR there are many grower clients that try to use only one layer or height of netting and keep raising it as the plant grows.  This method is NOT recommended because it damages the stems and can even create entry points for bacteria, viruses, and molds where the plant gets cut or abused.  The idea behind using the HORTOFLOR training netting is having a passive support system, be it where it may be that the plant grows along the squares, without adapting the netting to every phase of growth.  

HORTOFLOR improves plant health management, development of the plant, and distribution of the flowers

HORTOFLOR improves plant health management, development of the plant, and distribution of the flowers

HEMP:  the cultivation of some species of hemp is permitted and regulated by local authorities and we advise consulting the respective local entity since the laws and permissible varieties differ from country to country and even from state to state, in the case of federations.  Medicinal hemp requires a horizontal trellis, the same as do flowers for cutting, since the part with commercial value is the flower itself which then becomes processed for infusions or dried for other prescribed medical use.

In English-speaking countries this method of cultivation is called Sea of Green (SOG) or Screen of Green (SCROG) because the idea basically is to create a plant mass that grows just as fast as the available nutrients and light (that will often be artificial) will allow, without having a dominant plant grow more than others and covering those around it.  For these crops the training netting that is used is the 2m (6.5 feet) MALLAJUANA with 15x17cm (6×6.5 inches) squares, but there are also those who use MALLAJUANA of other sizes because a lot of greenhouses were set up for flower production of longer ago and the flower beds are already made.

Utilization of MALLAJUANA with the SCROG plant training method

Utilization of MALLAJUANA with the SCROG plant training method

HORTOMALLAS thanks its clients for having selected us, and, being driven as we are to be the leader in produce support systems, we hope that this brief guide may have helped you to determine which trellis or training netting is best suited to your needs.

Warning:

Reading only suitable for those 18 years of age or older.  The only objective of this article is to point out the appropriateness of different trellis training methods for different crops.  This article has no intention of causing controversy nor of promoting the use of or production of plants that may be controlled by local regulations or laws.  The plants mentioned in this article are normally found to be subject to local law.  The information contained herein is nothing more than a compilation of a simple internet search.



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