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20 June 2023

When anti-hail systems collapse or fall over, where did it go wrong?

When anti-hail systems collapse or fall over, where did it go wrong?

You are a grower and you want a certain security in your business operations. You want to minimise damage from hail, as well as sunburn, wind and insects. Preventively placing hailnetting is an excellent choice for that, but it takes time every year to roll up the hailneting before winter and close them in spring. Besides, you have seen images of acres of hailnetting lying flat on the ground.

Every year there are reports of hailnetting falling down by hectares at a time. The damage is enormous! You as a fruit grower certainly don't want to experience that! The damage is not only to the orchard, but the consequences are drastic for the growers this happens to. In this article, we look at the causes. Why do things go wrong? Why do anti hail systems collapse?

4 causes why anti-hail systems collapse

We first look at outside influences. From the outside you will say? Yes, it always has a cause why hailnetting collapse when maybe years before they just functioned.

Cause number 1: Snow

Snow and often wet snow in nets puts huge pressure on the system. The anti hail nets and construction is not designed for this.

Cause number 2: Fall wind

Fall winds destroy everything. Wind falls on top of an area and gives so tremendous forces in all directions that everything blows over. Entire forests that have been standing for hundreds of years to houses and building. Even anti hail nets can go down because of fall winds.

Cause number 3: Hail overload

We also see this particularly prevalent in southern Europe. Heavy loads give that systems collapse under the burden of hail! Actually, this is often in combination with wind. It starts with the breaking of head poles that receive too much load.

Cause number 4: Anchors

Total penetration of soil so that anchors no longer have tensile strength. This has occurred in several places in central Europe. The huge amount of rain can make the soil so soft that there is no strength left in the soil to hold the anchors.

Anti hail net system

4 key points for a not collapsible anti-hail system

So are hail net systems so bad that it can only make them collapse and fall over? No certainly not. Experience proves that this is usually not the case. In fact, it usually goes well.

Here are 4 technical key points for a not collapsible system:

Point 1: Anchor distance.

We say it a lot on our website, because it is so important. With systems that collapse, it is actually always too small. 2.5 to 3 metres around gives enormous power to the system. Here is a video to show that.

Point 2: Wooden posts

Wooden posts that rot quite often at ground level. This can cause a lot of damage unseen. Invest good quality wood.

Point 3: Too little tension

If the system is not sufficiently tensioned, the nets can sag. As a result, all the weight is concentrated in one place. This results in overloading at one spot in the system.

Point 4: Too much tension

If there is too much tension on the system, head posts sink into the groundg. The system then goes off tension and collapses.

How do you prevent anit-hailnet systems from collapsing during extreme conditions?

  1. Provide a good foundation. During construction, the foundations must be laid for a strong system. Posts and anchors at the right spacing. Good plates on the end posts. We call these anti-sinking plates.
  2. Keep the system in tension. Ensure maintenance. When rolling up or closing the nets, it is a good time to check your wires and cables for proper tension.
  3. Replace broken or rotten poles in time. Only 1 link needs to be the weakest where catastrophe begins in extreme conditions. There are solutions for wooden poles that have rotted at ground level to be reinforced again so they can last longer. Contact your installer to discuss this.
  4. Make sure there are no openings in the ground near the anchor. After tensioning or after a heavy load, the anchor stand may have made room in the ground. If there is a lot of rain, it can easily fill up and greatly weaken the strength of the soil around the anchor.
  5. Watch the weather when opening and closing the nets. Open nets immediately after harvest to avoid any risk. This is difficult in spring because the weather is unpredictable. Should the nets be open in spring and snow is forecast? Then it is best to open all the slab nets except at the poles. In the worst case, the plaket at the pole breaks or the net tears out. But that's better than the whole system going down.

Handboek hagelnetten

Are you planning to build a hail net system? 

Download our free manual here!

Often, the toppling of hail nets is a combination of factors. Proper maintenance is incredibly important. Cheap can then be expensive. As a fruit grower, you want the best for you and your farm. You want no worries about your systems and confidence that things are right.  With this article, we share our insights and want to help you become the grower you want to be.

Gerben van Veldhuizen - FruitSecurity Holland

Gerben van Veldhuizen

CEO & fruitprotection specialist

My mission is to help as many fruit growers as possible get a good harvest.
So that fruit damage can be prevented, no delivery problems occur, and fruit growers can harvest successfully!