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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Too Much Fertilizer Can Stop Fig Production

Q. I have a 15-foot tall yellow fig tree I cut back every winter to about 8 feet. It grows aggressively every year and usually fruits 3 times a year with large, sweet figs. This year the fruit wwas good but I only got about ten figs. I planted a kumquat tree near it and applied the recommended fertilizer. Did that fertilizer caused the fig to stop producing fruit? It doesn't look like it’s going to fruit again this year.
This fig tree was cut back severely. Look at the new growth when the trunk size is reduced. Fig trees can be cut back considerably and they will re-grow as suckers from the trunk. This can reduce the early crop of figs.
A. It is hard to say definitively but if the tree is given an abundance of nitrogen fertilizer it will grow lots of leaves and stems and sacrifice its fruit production. This is Doubly true if the tree has also been cut back severely.Cutting it back severely stimulates new growth. It's like giving it a big shot of fertilizer.
Another fig tree pruned back severely and look at its growth the following year. Severe pruning is done during the winter months.
            Plants are opportunists. If an abundance of nitrogen is available, they put excess nitrogen to the best use they can which is leaf and stem growth, not fruit production.The tree becomes more juvenile.
           When a tree has lots of available nitrogen and it has been cut or pruned heavily, it is forced to grow like a young tree. When the tree has grown big enough for its roots, extra nitrogen is put into fruit production.
This fig tree was 12 feet tall before pruning. Figs are produced on stems that grew last year and stems that grow this year. Basically 2 crops of figs. This 10-year-old fig tree was pruned back so the fruit produced is easier to pick from the new growth. Some of last year's growth remains so that the early crop can be picked as well.

            Fruit production slows leaf and stem growth. Nitrogen speeds up leaf and stem growth but it can also make fruit larger if there is plenty of water. So this next year it should be back in production if you reduce the amount high nitrogen fertilizers and continue winter pruning.

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