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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fig Fruit Falling from the Trees

Q. I am in Kingman, Arizona, a transplant from Los Angeles. I brought cuttings with me from my fig trees there. Here these figs grow to the size of a 50 cent piece or larger, and then they ALL fall off. Or they mature to the size of a quarter and the birds get those. I get an over-abundance of figs but I never enjoy any of them because of they fall off. I open the figs up and discover that they are totally dried and brown in the inside although they are a beautiful green or black or brown depending on the species.

A. The type of fig should not make any difference. I have grown many varieties of figs here and have never had a problem with anyone of them. This is actually a good climate for figs. Kingman is a little bit on the cold side for figs and you may have some freezing weather at times that may cause some die back. This past winter was fairly mild and that should not have happened.
The major reason for having figs that never mature, dry up on the branches and fall off, is not enough water when the fruits are developing. Figs should really be considered an oasis plant like palms. They will be best irrigated if a basin surrounding the trunk is filled with water each time.
They will also benefit from a layer of wood mulch at least 3 to 4 inches deep covering their roots out to a distance equal to the spread of the tree. Drip irrigation will work but there has to be enough emitters around the tree and they must be left on long enough to thoroughly wet the roots to a depth of 2 to 3 feet.
Another possible reason is the dried fruit beetle which can attack the fruit. These insects come from old fruit that's left on the tree or that has fallen on the ground. It can come from any fruit remaining so sanitation of your Orchard area is extremely important.
If you are composting with fruit it is important to make sure the compost totally covers the fruit or is buried in the compost. Otherwise put any fallen fruit or fruit remaining on the tree in a container with a lid to prevent this insect from infesting your fruit.
Generally speaking however I think it is most likely because the tree is not getting enough water when the fruit is being produced. You can look at my blog and see if this fits your problem.

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