Knittex investigated the five fundamental challenges producers are facing in 2022, of which one is environmental pressure. The effects of climate change affect producers’ ability to grow food. Increasingly volatile weather and more extreme events – such as floods and drought – change growing seasons, limit the availability of water, allow weeds, pests and fungi to thrive, and can reduce crop productivity.

An increasing number of South African fruit producers are considering shade netting for a variety of reasons. These include protecting fruit against sun damage as well as losses due wind or hail, which can run into millions of rands as South African mango producers have experienced over the last few years. Fruit producers across the country are enclosing their orchards under netting, if the terrain allows.

One of the largest shade netting companies in South Africa is Knittex, which was established in 1964. Their netting, made of a high-quality knitted fabric, is durable, 100% recyclable and has a lifespan of ten years or more.

Knittex offers a wide range of products

“Our SpectraNet range gives producers the highest results and best return on their investment. Another advantage of our nets is that our fabric does not unravel when cut. If the material is damaged, it can be easily repaired.

“Due to the flexibility, durability and light weight of our fabric, it is easy to erect, and it is a very economical cover. In addition, it breathes due to the open mesh configuration. By using the correct mesh size to manipulate air movement through the shade house, you can control the humidity and therefore also the transpiration rate,” says a representative from Knittex.

In recent years, Knittex has invested in research on the use of differently coloured shade netting, such as blue, red and far-red energy, which affects photosynthesis and photomorphogenesis.

Knittex shade netting can be used to manipulate plant growth. For example, to promote stem length, use a net that allows far-red wavelengths through. This will force the plant to stretch to the light. White shade net or a black/white combination shade net has been used very successfully on various vegetables, especially when grown hydroponically.

The company conducted a four-and-a-half-month trial using Code 20 white/active blue net over a banana plantation and found that the block under netting was taller, with larger leaves and less leaf shredding.

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