Keeping Birds off Grapes

September 1st, 2013

I planted grape vines along my fence I don’t even know how many years ago, but I’ve never really gotten grapes from them, every year, before they ripen, the birds eat them. I have a seedless concord grape vine and a green seedless table grape of a variety I do not recall, but I never got grapes from them. It was an endless source of frustration.

Granted I also don’t prune them as well as I should for true grape production as you’d find in a vineyard. My garden is a little too crowded for the spacing required for that, or the access I’d need to walk over and prune them, so production isn’t as high as it could be, but I still never got any grapes.

This year I vowed to do something about that though. In my research I saw that some vineyards would use bird netting over the entire vine, and I really didn’t have the space for that (the vine is along my fence, and I also have trees, shrubs, and other plantings brushing up my fence in spots, so wrapping the whole fence in netting would be very difficult). Plus I thought that smushing all the leaves and whatnot together would limit overall plant vigor and could induce fungal issues.

I hit upon the idea of getting mesh/net bags and putting each grape bundle, while it was still immature, in a bag to protect it. This was fairly tedious, it took a couple hours, and it wouldn’t work for a very large scale grower, but it worked for me. So this year, finally, I got grapes. Not much, but some. I need to do better with pruning next year to try to increase production.

Grapes in a Bag

I ended up buying three different types of bags. I was originally searching for green mesh net bags, like the sort of nylon mesh you’d buy maybe onions or oranges wrapped in, that is usually red though, and I could find lots of red, but I wanted it to blend into the landscape more and so I searched for green. I did eventually find some simple ones like that on eBay from the UK and had them shipped in. I could find of course, single count mesh bags in green, purple, or any color I wanted, but when I needed 100 I needed something cheap and in bulk. These were the net style nylon bags with no drawstring or closing mechanism, so they weren’t entirely idea, they were also larger than the average cluster of grapes by quite a bit. I also bounght some drawstring ones from Alibaba Express. This is sorta like an eBay site for Chinese manufacturers, all told it was a very safe transaction, the money was held in escrow until my goods arrived so I was assured of not being ripped off. I would recommend it. These bags, with drawstrings, were really easy to put up on the vines, and at 34 cents each they were affordable. Finally I got some red polypropylene net bags on eBay as well. Red didn’t blend into the background, but it made it easier to find and harvest the grapes afterwards, they were also really cheap, 2.3 cents each. What I ended up doing is using the green bags on the outside of my fence where the neighbors could see them, and the red bags on the inside where only I could see them.

It isn’t a perfect system, and I still want to tour some vineyards sometime to see how the big boys keep the birds away, but I got grapes for the first time this year, and that makes me happy.

One Response to “Keeping Birds off Grapes”

  1. David  Says:

    We used to have the same problem with our grapes… all of our fruit really. It was heartbreaking to lose all that fruit year after year. We literally tried every product on the market to scare the birds away but nothing worked.

    Birds are really smart. They quickly get used to any pest deterrent that is static or mechanical. We even tried those sound machines that give out distress calls… the birds would sit right next to it and pay it no attention.

    The only thing that really works against birds is life-like movement and we discovered a solution that nobody has thought about before (even though it’s been right in front of us the whole time). It works so well we even filed for a patent to use this product as a pest deterrent. It works great for backyard gardens and we are in the process of developing a larger one to cover larger areas.

    Check out the photos from our personal garden this year:

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