The general utilisation of hail nets is spreading all over the world and in Hungary too. Hail nets are at present the only tool, which
is able to prevent heavy hail damage in agricultural crops. Besides its numerous advantages, there are also deleterious side effects, e.g. it
changes the microclimate of the crop stand. Our study aimed to observe the differences, which characterise the physical status of crop stands
under the protection of hail nets compared with the stands in open air under various meteorological conditions: high or low temperature, calm
or windy atmosphere and their possible combinations. The results indicated that on hot and calm days the difference may attain 3–4° C. On
cool summer days, the difference was only 1.5 ºC. The hail net influences the relative humidity of the air, which means on ho summer days
often 7-8% differences. Conditions of radiation may also differ conspicuously. Measurements prove the reduced global radiation on sunny
summer days to 70%. This impairs as a rule the development of fruits reducing their quality and also its quantitative traits. Sunburn is, on the
other hand, significantly prevented by shadow.
Today, successful fruit growing depends largely on the security of production. Among the technological elements of a secure growing system, the use of hail protection nets serves special attention. Components of security are the regularity, conspicuous large yields with excellent quality, which determine the prices and profitability as well (Szabó et al., 2010). In the European Union, most of the apple growing countries produce higher yields by 10-20% than Hungary. The conditions of better yields are partly due to a more favourable ecological milieu, partly to more developed technologies and serious discipline of the operations. Our own competitiveness could be developed first of all in those moments. As a consequence of global climatic changes, excesses of weather, i.e. hail-storms became more frequent. Different methods of protection against hail are developed abroad but also in Hungary. The examination of effects of the hail protection nets compared with the check without nets has been the purpose of our experiments. The growing system was the intensive one with high planting densities. Fruits of the two subsequent years have been compared as grown with and without hail protective nets. It turned out that in one season when shoot growth was stimulated, the shadowing effect of the net increased in addition the growth and at the same time braked the differentiation of flower buds, which exerted negative effects on yield of the next year. Let alone this phenomenon, the quality of fruits was not influenced by the hail protection net.
The up to date intense apple growing in Hungary is capable to produce yearly about 500-1000 thousand Ft/ha income, which means that the investment of 4 000–5 000 thousand Ft is returned by producing 10-20% net income. The economic balance may, however, be upset by the damage caused by hail, quantitative and qualitative, with an apparently increasing frequency experienced in each third or fourth year. Estimates prove that each hail causing 50% damage may reduces the income proportionately to the capital by 1.5–2.0 percent points, which means a serious threat for the economy of apple production. According to calculations, a plantation producing 30–40 t/ha yields would not be able to raise incomes compensating the investment of 7.0–10.0 million Ft/ha, let alone the frequencies of hail damages. Consequently, 50–60 t/ha yields are needed to become successful, and in planning of new plantations those high yields are aimed with hail nets. An additional difficulty is represented by a lack of financial resources to install hail protection nets.