Type your question here!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Figs Won't Make it Before it Freezes

Q. We have a Black Mission fig tree with about one hundred well-formed but still very green fruit. This will be the second crop for 2012. It is now the first week of November. We are afraid that the frost will come before these fruit mature. Do you have any suggestions on maximizing our yield from these trees? This is becoming an annual problem.
Two different crops of figs on the same branch: early figs
(briba) on the older, darker wood and the second crop
(main crop) on the green new growth.
A. In our Las Vegas Valley climate it is very common to have two crops of figs each year. In fact, if we could maintain warm temperatures through November we would actually get a third crop of figs.

            The first crop of figs in the summer comes from growth or wood that grew the previous year. In other words, the first crop of figs you should be getting the summer of 2013 will come from wood that grew in 2012. It is easy to see the difference between wood produced in 2012 from older wood because of the color difference.

            The second crop of figs, as well as the late third crop which you are seeing now, comes from the current season wood. So this coming year the second and third crop will grow on wood produced in 2013.

            There are the two things that you will most likely have to do this coming winter and the subsequent growing season. When you prune your fig tree this winter, leave some wood on the tree that grew this past season.
Fig along fence after winter pruning at The Orchard

            If you want an early crop, the first crop, you must leave some of last year’s wood on the tree. If you remove this wood by cutting everything back you will remove the early crop of figs. If this wood is excessively long, you can cut some of it back and it will still produce fruit. I would leave 2 to 3 feet of this wood remaining.

            If this wood, last year's wood, is not very long it means your tree is not getting enough water. Normally the wood produced last year could range from 2 to 6 feet or more in length. It varies with how much light it is getting, position on the tree, if it is upright or not, etc.

            Two things that will give you more growth is water and surface mulch. Fig trees do very well with organic surface mulch or wood mulch on the surface of the soil. 3 to 4 inches or more would be great.

            You would water a fig tree just like any other landscape tree that is not a desert plant. Figs are not really desert adapted. They are typical of more Mediterranean climates and they do like water for the production. I hope this helps. Watch my blog for this question and I will post pictures.


  1. Posted from an email to Extremehort...

    When raking up after our 20 year old fig leafed out, I noted a substantial number of medium to large size figs with a rather tender thin skin still on the tree, undisturbed by the birds.

    Whereas in the past, we gave up on eating these
    figs, this time we cut off their stems, placed a drop of olive oil on that defect and broiled them for 20 minutes in a 350 convection oven. A very interesting dish, not sweet, but good mouth feel and decent fruity taste. Great
    with a martini. I had not read of this before. Thought you might be interested.

  2. So these were green figs, none ripe?

    These were soft, Mission figs of medium to large size, looked like they should be ripe, basically had no taste fresh. Of about 2 dozen that I picked because of size, only half felt they should be ripe. If they were hard but looked ripe, the inside was whitish and unripe. Broiled up, it surprisingly worked as a
    reasonable snack; good mouth feel and fruity.