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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.