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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fig Tree in November with Yellow and Scorched Leaves

Q. Can you tell me what is causing the leaf scorching on my black mission fig tree?  Is this normal for the fall?  I haven’t seen any pests or other obviously signs of disease. As you can see, it is producing its third crop of figs so I think it is receiving sufficient water. The first two crops of figs were good and juicy.  It is currently receiving 8 gallons of water of each time it is watered; just watered once a week now (as of November 1st).  Previously, it was receiving 16 gallons of water per week (i.e., watered twice at 8 gallons each).   Two days after it was watered, I checked the soil at about a foot below the surface and the soil seemed moist (not soggy).

Readers fig tree, scorched leaves and fig crop
I read in your blog that fig trees rarely produce a third crop of figs in Las Vegas so should I remove all of the figs and allow the tree to store its energy until the spring?

A. The leaf scorching that you're seeing is soil related. This usually means either the plant is not getting enough water or there are salt problems. Because you are producing nice juicy figs I am guessing it's a salt problem. I would do two things to your fig tree.

First I would move the drip emitters further from the trunk, usually about 18 inches. As this tree gets larger it will need more emitters. This tree should have four emitters 18 inches from the trunk and spaced like a square with the trunk in the center of the square.

Secondly, I would cover the area under the tree with more wood mulch to a depth of about 4 inches and covering an area at least 6 feet in diameter with the trunk being at the center of that diameter or circle.

The fact that you are getting nice juicy figs tells me the plant is getting enough water. What I sense is that the roots are now growing beyond the planted area and are encountering salty soils.

I would take a hose and flood that area with water to begin to push the salts away from the roots. You don't want to push the salts back toward the tree but you want to push them away from the tree or you want to push them deeper into the soil below the roots. This requires water and enough water to wet the soil down to a depth of about 18 inches.

If you can temporarily construct a berm or donut around the tree about 6 feet in diameter that will hold water you can fill this donut two or three times with water from a hose and that will help to flush the salts away from the roots.

The other thing you can do is take one of those small stationary sprinklers that attach to a hose and turn up the water pressure so that it sprays water on top of the soil in an area about 6 feet in diameter and flood that soil to leach the salts.

This might require that you turn the sprinkler on for 10 or 15 minutes several times with about an hour between. Otherwise you might get flooding. Once the water begins to flood or puddle you won't get very good leaching.

You want and even application applied to the surface of the soil with little to no puddling, entering the soil and pushing the salts in the wave to a depth below the roots which is typically about 18 inches deep. Don't forget to fertilize your fig tree this next January.

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