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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fig Fruit Drop May Be Lack of Water

Q. After reading your suggestions I have a feeling the problem could be not enough water.  What do you think?  I have been watering three times a week for 1 1/2 hours (8 gal. each hour) for a total of 12 gallons each time. I took a picture of the fig tree so you could get an idea on the size of the tree.  As you can see the tree is mulched.
Readers fig tree
A. A very reliable indicator that a fig is not getting enough water is poor fruit development. Fig is a very resilient plant when it comes to water and can withstand fairly droughty conditions. But one of the first things a fig will do when water is limiting is hold back on fruit production or produce fruit that is not “juicy” because that requires lots of water. 
Figs produced along the Brown older wood. This is the first crop produced on the wood from last year. This is called the Briba crop.

Fig fruit will be small and tough if not enough water is applied. When water is withheld even further then you will see the results in growth. At this point fruit production is no longer in the picture much but rapid and wild growth will be curtailed. Figs need new growth for fruit production. The more growth it has, the more fruit it will produce on this new growth. New growth becomes the source of fruit production this year and early fruit production (Briba crop) next year. Once fruit production is over you can pull back on watering but it needs plenty of water when fruit is being produced.
Figure leaf yellowing and leaf drop can be a sign you need to give more water
It is hard for me to tell if your watering is adequate or not. The frequency, three times a week, sure seems enough. The quantity of 12 gallons each time sure sounds enough for a small tree like that. Without going down to the roots somehow and seeing if the soil is moist or not we are just guessing. Mulching helps but a small amount of mulch around the trunks a couple of feet in all directions and an inch thick will not be enough most likely. I like to put down mulch at least four inches in depth and have it out as much as the edge of the canopy (where the growth stops) to be effective.

But the proof is in the pudding. If fruits are not swelling up to a good size and full of water my guess is that something is keeping the water from getting to the fruit from the roots. Either not enough is applied or often enough or there is something stopping the water from getting to the fruit such as root damage, trunk or limb damage, disease or insect problems.

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