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Thank you to all who responded and for your thoughtful answers!

Original Question:

Is anyone out there using ProtekNet? If so, would you mind answering a few
questions about it? It seems like a better option than row cover in the
summer (specifically for covering brassicas and cucurbits for a couple
weeks after transplant) but we're having a hard time justifying the cost. I
will compile and repost answers.

Summary:

People who responded seem to really like it and think it is well worth the
investment. There are quite a few responses that were very informative.
Distributors of ProtekNet are Nolts, Brookdale, Dubois Agrinovations.
Distributor of more durable ExcludeNet is Dale-Ila Riggs at the Berry Patch
in Stephentown, NY. Thank you all for taking the time to respond!!

Responses:

We’ve used it for 6 years on garlic, onions and brassicas.  It’s worth the
cost, IMO.  We get 2-3 years out of it if treated well.

I used a heavier weight product and a large – maybe 15 foot wide sheet when
I was at Trillium Hill, ask James about it!  I bet it lasts longer than the
stuff from Brookdale in 4 or 6foot wide sections.


I've always used ProtekNet and consider it to be one of our essentials for
arugula, mustard greens and salad kale/kale transplants.  Have never used
row cover because the PN lets in the light better and keeps things cooler
IMO.  Very effective if you get it on right away - if you don't and put it
on, it just keeps the beetles in.  We use it mostly in the hoophouses and
move it around after the kale has gotten bigger.  We've also found that we
get a flush of the beetles in the early Spring, and then they are gone
until fall.  Didn't have any this year for the first succession of kale,
arugula and mustard greens, but noticed last week the 2nd succession was
getting munched on, so we sprayed Friday and will cover up this week.
We're on our third year of using the same pieces - just super careful when
putting on and off we don't get holes in it.  Counting on having it
indefinitely until we do.

1) What are you using it for?
We used it on everything... brassicas, greens, cucurbits. We used it on
some crops for prolonged periods with big hoops such as field cucumbers. We
also would use it on some crops for as long as we could until they were
burst out of it to help prevent damage to young seedlings such as winter
squash, melons, brussels sprouts. It was so helpful.
2) How many years of use do you get out of it if treated well?
We got 3 years out of most of ours but I left so anything in good condition
will probably last them longer if stored with care. We put it in garbage
bags for the winter to prevent rodent damage as well as careful handling
during the growing season.
3) Do you notice a significant difference in quality of crop when using
proteknet vs 0.5oz row cover?
Yes. We had issues with 0.5oz row cover forcing early bolting. We did have
some issues with the proteknet resting on leaves such as greens, radish
tops etc and would still see flea beetle damage. I wouldn't recommend it as
much for greens if you are not using a fresh piece or if it is not held
down perfectly (ie no spaces between ground and sides between hoops). It's
not as effective as row cover for flea beetles which was the pest we were
trying to exclude.
4) Anything else of note?
It has to be tight, but if you pull it too tight, the stretchy-ness
decreases for future use. Sort of a tough balance. We used rock bags and I
had to remind the crew frequently about how to keep it tight and also to be
very careful not to rip it. I would sometimes share the cost of a row of
proteknet which was always a shocking (but effective) reminder.
I started with one roll and used it on the crops we were really struggling
with. I let my experience the first year guide how much I invested in for
future years. With the summers getting hotter, I did find it helpful that
it is not insulating.
Also, it's cheapest from Nolts I am pretty sure.

We started using ProtekNet a few years ago and really liked it for most
everything you need to cover in the summer. It is rather delicate and we
found didn't last more than 2 seasons and the 2nd was really showing some
wear and tear, so we ended up doubling up with old covers. We have since
moved on to other netting material that has a little more heft to it and
really lasts a lot better. It is ExcludeNet and distributed by Dale Riggs
and Don Miles from Berry Protection Solutions out of Stephentown, NY. Much
better stuff in my opinion, the manufacturer is Tek-Knit out of Canada. We
have also found that if we use this in the late fall over top of our row
cover it weights it down nicely so that we don't have wind issues with row
cover coming off in the fall when the wind is kicking up in some of our
fields. Dale is at 413-329-5031.

We use Proteknet. We originally had the same questions because it is so
expensive. We’ve found that brassicas like it much much better during the
summer than row cover. We’ve fount that increased yields and crop quality
easily justify the cost. It is stretchy compared to the row cover. This
seems easier on the crops. We hoop some things, but mostly it goes
unhooped. We have now gotten two seasons out of our first batch. This
includes moving it 4 or 5 times per season. We wash it, dry it, and store
it in contractor bags for the winter. Mice do nest in it and chew holes
sometimes. We hold it down mostly with the “dirty turnover” method. This
has been fine unless weeds grow through it from above. Sand bags work well
too. It catches the wind less than row cover. We get it from Dubois
Agrinovation.

We decided to switch to proteknet for our summer mustard plantings after
the summer of 2019, when we lost 3 weeks of plantings in the heat. We
absolutely noticed the greens are greener and more robust compared to how
they are under remay. For those baby mustard plantings we do not hoop and
we seal the edges with soil. Because the crop has a short season, we don't
get weeds growing into the edges so it doesn't tear at the sides. We do use
sandbags at the ends of the beds where weeds are more likely to grow into
the fabric.
Last year we expanded the use of the protek into our fall kale and bok choi
plantings. We do hoop the kale plantings, and use sandbags when we hoop as
it otherwise blows off. The metal hoops didn't seem to damage the fabric as
warned.
This will be our third year of use--not sure about its longevity yet but
we've noticed it is much stronger than remay.
In short, we love it and feel it is well worth the investment.

We use it to help germinate arugula, radishes and hakurai turnips in the
summertime. You need to use hoops too though and make sure they are
positioned correctly to keep the flea beetles from still being able to
access the leaves as they get bigger.  A layer of soil all along the edges
is pretty necessary to not allow them to get in at weak points as well.
I wouldn’t use it with squash; I don’t think the cost can be justified in
that case bc the plants are so much more spread out. With our cucurbits, we
row cover them for one week, pull the row cover and tine weed, then recover
immediately for another week. That works relatively well, though can be
dodgy if it’s really wet and the timing doesn’t work well. Once we pull the
row cover the second time, the plants are usually big enough to outgrow any
damage from squash beetles. I coexist with them uncomfortably in this way.
On our 5 acre farm, I get away with about 600’ of proteknet and ask my
workers to be very gentle pulling it up so hopefully it lasts 2-3 seasons.

We use it for larger brassicas as well as salad greens. We have only been
using it for two years but I think I'll get a third year at least out of
the oldest stuff- depends of course on how much of the season it is used
(salad stuff is in the field all season whereas brassica cover is less
time).  We use it both with and without hoops.
The main reason I switched was to avoid the thermal retention that you get
with even lightweight row cover. We used Ag-15 for a while and that stuff
is brutal- so delicate and still holds some heat.  I definitely saw quality
reduction in crops like arugula if we had a hot spell.  I think Ag-19 would
be tricky in the summer for some of the more sensitive salad greens. Maybe
not so much longer-season brassicas.
The other things I like about it it how well you can see through it and how
flexible it is!  No need to lift up row cover to see what's going on.  It
doesn't tear easily and has a nice stretchy quality to it when it is new.

We use it to get a summer brassica crop. Going on 3-4 yrs still usable few
holes

we are using the 47g for broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower mostly to
combat swede midge, which was very effective last summer and has allowed us
to reintroduce those crops after several years of leaving them out.  Seems
like this fabric will last quite a few years and is versatile for other
crops slots as well like cucurbits and alliums.  we have used the 60g for
larger bugs and critters on cucurbits and strawberries, its heavy enough to
just lay down without many sandbags and easy to peel off daily.
Inititial cost is very expensive compared to remay, though i believe worth
it for its durability and effectiveness through warmer conditions.

We love it enough that is has a nick name. The crew calls it panty hose. It
is great for second crop Brassica's (June) for flea beetles. Significant
reduction in heat stress and less blowing off. Lasts two seasons if you are
careful. Some woodchuck protection as well!

I have several customers that use our ExcludeNet netting on vegetables.
They say they will never go back to using row cover.  If you like, I can
ask them if they mind if I forward their names and contact info to you.
They have purchased it for several years in a row.

The University of Kentucky is doing large scale trials at growers farms
with both 60 gram and 85 gram netting.  Just weeks into the trial, growers
called me to order their own netting because they liked it so much.

The ExcludeNet netting has a five year warranty against UV degradation.  I
used the 80 gram netting on my commercial blueberry planting for six years
in a row and would have used it for a seventh year had I not gotten a SARE
Grant to do a demonstration with comparing support structures and a new
method of combining pieces (zippered panels) on the support structure.

I have also used the netting on my own vegetable crops both in my tunnels
and outside.  I use it on greens inside my tunnels for flea beetles and on
melons outside for the myriad of pests, including deer.  It’s all netting
that I got seven years ago when I started my blueberry research, and it’s
still going strong.  A fabric made of the same base material has been used
in Quebec to protect baby greens from rain and hail.  They apply it and
pick it up mechanically 10 times a year in Quebec and then ship it to
Florida for 10 applications per year there.  It was year 12 before they
started to replace the netting.

Dan Gilrein on Long Island has successfully done research with it on
cabbage and was very pleased with the results.

There is confusion about the difference between ProTekNet and ExcludeNet.
ProTekNet is a name that Dubois Agrinovation came up with that applies to
all of their netting products, like SUV refers to all Sport Utility
Vehicles, no matter who makes them. So you can think of ExcludeNet as a
Subaru SUV and ProTekNet as a Hyundai SUV.   I don’t know where Dubois gets
their netting from now.

ExcludeNet is manufactured by TekKnit Industries in Montreal Quebec.
Dubois used to sell the 60 gram and 80 gram netting made by TekKnit but no
longer sells the TekKnit product.  After TekKnit saw what I had
accomplished with covering my commercial blueberry planting and getting
virtually zero infestation from Spotted Wing Drosophila, they asked if I
would be their Eastern U.S. Distributor.  I thought long and hard about it,
and ultimately decided that my grower experience would be of benefit to
other growers in selling this product.  Since then I have suggested three
innovations for the fabric to TekKnit that has resulted in a better product
for growers.

I also offer tiered pricing and encourage growers to work together to do a
group order and group shipment saving money for everyone.  And we welcome
pick ups at our farm in Stephentown NY, 35 minutes from Bennington.

I am attaching spec sheets and price lists for the 85 gram netting and 60
gram netting and an insect pest chart.  I currently have 13 foot 85 gram
netting in stock here in Stephentown NY and will be getting some more 26’
85 gram netting in a couple of weeks.   More 60 gram netting is supposed to
arrive in early June.

Please call me at 413-329-5031 with any questions.


I started using netting 4 years ago. Initially, it was to replace ag-15
remay for salad mix covering during the summer months. I had found that
even the lightest weight remay would still trap too much moisture, causing
massive amounts of mustard rot in my greens. The netting solved that. It
kept out insects as well as shielded the greens from rain splash, and
allowed moisture to escape, thus negating the rot problem
 Also, the netting doubles as deer protection. Because it has no r value,
it can be left on crops all summer long, protecting them without the crops
ever getting too hot or damaged.
Lastly,  I have had the same rolls for 4 years. We are careful removing and
rolling it as it can rip,  but it is way more durable then remay.
I think the cost is worth it.

I use proteknet for exactly the reasons you say, covering summer-planted
cucurbits and brassicas to keep them from getting too hot. I would estimate
you get at least 5 years out of it. I've been very happy with it, because
along with solving the heat problem, it is much easier to handle. It is
much lighter than regular row cover and takes up much less space in
storage. I noticed that when cutting a roll to the correct bed length, you
should give an extra buffer at the ends, because it tends to shrink a
little once you start using it. Also, once a roll of proteknet gets ripped,
I use small portions of it in the greenhouse to cover cucurbits and other
vulnerable seedlings when there is a lot of rodent pressure.

1) What are you using it for?
Mainly to cover broccoli, chinese cabbage, baby arugula and baby kale.
2) How many years of use do you get out of it if treated well?
I know it depends on which kind of proteknet you get. I have the 25g, which
I got directly from Dubois Agrinovations in QC (it's also the kind Johnny's
offers, or at least did). I've had it a couple years, and it's still doing
well, although if it snags (jagged fingernails can be a culprit) it'll
develop a few small runs like a nylon stocking, but it doesn't really seem
to hurt it's effectiveness since it didn't actually break the weave. I use
sandbags to weigh it down, not ground staples or anything that would shred
it. Not sure about how well it would last when edges are buried with dirt
to weigh it down. The 25g is pretty thin and stretchy, making it easy to
work with and it excludes even the little bugs, but it's not the longest
lasting of the options ( I think they rate it at 3 years ish?). I know of
another farm that has a stiffer, thicker version of proteknet that looks
like it would last a really long time, but is less see-through and less
stretchy.
3) Do you notice a significant difference in quality of crop when using
proteknet vs 0.5oz row cover?
The plants, especially the chinese cabbage and arugula seemed a lot less
heat stressed
4) Anything else of note?
It's definitely pricy, but I like that it lasts multiple years. I'm pretty
small-scale, but for me, it was definitely worth it. I also really like
that it's so see-through. This is one of those things that is more
important than I thought--the out of sight, out of mind thing is really
big. Seeing through it helps me consistently assess the crop, consider
harvest time, weeds, etc (especially helpful for quick turnover baby
arugula and kale beds that need a constant eye but also need flea beetle
protection)--so much easier than with agribon/remay/covertan row cover. I
trialed sewing some cheap black landscape fabric strips along the edges so
that the landscape fabric touches the ground and is weighed down by the
bags, so the proteknet doesn't touch the ground and deteriorate. Went
pretty quickly with a simple sewing machine. Trial is still out on whether
that significantly increases the lifespan long enough to be worth the
effort, but it has worked really well so far. I can't imagine sewing it
during the spring rush though, that was something I did during the quieter
winter months, and only on a small, trial scale.