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Covering a tree in very thin,transparent plastic

Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:16 pm
by Tovv
Would the leaves of a tree obtain all the light energy they need with the crown of the tree covered in thin-transparent plastic?

I need to know this to solve a problem for my neighbours.

Re: Covering a tree in very thin,transparent plastic

Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:27 pm
by rainbowgardener
What is the problem and what kind of climate do you live in?

Yes the tree would get sufficient light. Plants can thrive in greenhouses, which is basically the same situation, but with thicker plastic or glass. But there are other issues. The plastic holds in humidity/moisture and doesn't allow air circulation. Both of these are very bad for the tree and are likely to result in fungal diseases. It helps if the plastic can be ventilated, but depending on what problem you are trying to solve (eg insect pests) that can ruin the problem solving effects of the plastic.

You would be amazed at the moisture that plants give off. I have a little mini-greenhouse that is just a shelf system with a plastic cover that zips up. It has no vents. When I would keep it zipped up over night for warmth, I would come back in the morning and the inside of it would be covered in water drops.

Re: Covering a tree in very thin,transparent plastic

Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 1:22 pm
by john gault
It would help to know the problem that way maybe we can give an alternate course of action. How long are you looking at covering the tree with plastic? Will the plastic contact the tree? Will it completely cover the tree or be more like an awning?

Re: Covering a tree in very thin,transparent plastic

Posted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:40 pm
by Tovv
I live in a temperate continental climate,4 seasons,drastic temperature difference from winter to summer.I'm looking for a method to catch the falling fruits of the mulberry tree,so the owners waste them no more and they can keep the pavement from the front of their house clean.There are a lot of mulberry trees in my neighborhood and everybody complains about how many mulberries are on the ground this part of the year.
The system will cover the tree pretty much all summer,as long as the tree gives fruit.
The plastic has contact with the tree just at the bottom of the crown,where the fruits will be gathered. Is it important to make sure it doesn't touch the leaves?
I think it could be the opposite of an awning.I take in count modifying the scheme by cutting the top of the cover so the humidity which I have omitted from the initial equation will not build up.

Would humidity be a problem if the cover will have little holes all over the place and no top cover?

Thanks a lot for the replies!! Really appreciate you guys for the help!

Re: Covering a tree in very thin,transparent plastic

Posted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:08 pm
by rainbowgardener
If the plastic is just underneath the tree crown with no top cover it shouldn't be a problem.

Only issue I can foresee is that gathering up all the fruits like that will make it a mecca for birds and maybe other creatures big and small that love the berries.

Re: Covering a tree in very thin,transparent plastic

Posted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:11 pm
by applestar
I agree with rainbowgardener -- I don't think you have thought this through.

If you wrap the entire trees with clear plastic, you would create not only humidity but heat inside from the sunlight.

Soft mulberry fruit will quickly spoil and turn into red-brown-black goo. Buzzing with flies, wasps, fruit-flies, and other insects. Mold and rot will quickly follow, which will be swimming with maggots. It will be much messier job to try to clean all that up later.

Besides, don't you have birds and animals eating the berries, too?

Mulberries have tendency to fall off the branches as soon as they are close enough to ripe. When the branches are disturbed/shaken, more will drop. When birds and animals are trying to eat them, they disturb the branches, if they touch berries in trying to eat them, the berries drop. In the mean time, birds poop.

Unless you are diligent, what you get on anything you lay under the trees are mixture of good fruits with wormy fruits, unripe fruits, and birdpoop. Also, mulberry tree develops dead branches and twigs that break off easily. Those come falling down as well.

If you are seriously trying to think of ways to collect the good fruits, only way is to either pick the good fruits ONLY from the branches very carefully, or lay a clean tarp/sheet under the trees and pick the good fruits directly from the branches while the tarp.sheet saves what you accidentally drop. THEN pick up the good berries from the tarp.sheet. THEN Give the tree and branches a good shake. You can sort through the good and the bad that fall.

You need to then remove the tarp and clean it until next time you want to harvest. If you leave the tarp on the ground, then it will be covered with junk in less than a day.

NOW, as far as simply keeping the berries from falling on the pavement, don't try to cover the entire tree, but think "umbrella" or "roof" --my best recommendations would be

(1) to stretch an awning or tunnel for people to walk under if that's all you need
(2) or -- stretch an awning that spans the full area under the tree that is sloped so fruits that fall will roll/slide off one edge

(3) CRAZY IDEA -- *somehow* devise an upside down umbrella kind of a cone or spiderweb shaped awning around the trunk of the tree, stretched all the way to the dripline and higher on the outer rim than the inner rim. Make it so there is a gap in the center that goes around the trunk so all the fruits and debris that fall will slide down to the center and pile up around the base of the trunk.

...letting the berries fall to the ground in a grassy area is by far the EASIEST disposal method. Then you won't even see them and the natural air/ground crew can take them away or eat or decompose them in situ, and the residue will feed the tree for another crop of bountiful fruits next year.