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15 Steps to Success for Proper Fig Tree Care: A Fig Checklist

Updated: Sep 30

1. Introduction

This article provides a comprehensive checklist for fig growers to follow for a successful fig harvest from healthy trees. From pruning techniques, soil requirements, fertilization, pest control, and rejuvenation pruning, this article covers all the essential steps to ensure optimal fruit production and tree health.

It also highlights the importance of choosing the right variety for your climate and providing the right care during different seasons. Whether you are a seasoned fig grower or just starting, this checklist is a valuable resource to ensure a bountiful and fruitful fig harvest.

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2. Fig Checklist for Success

Step 1:

For proper fruit bud formation make sure that there is adequate light penetration into the canopy of your tree. Bend limbs and prune accordingly to open the canopy. Thin new shoots at bud break. Train figs as a tree form or as a cordon when possible. A bush should have no more than 3-6 trunks from the base. Trees with no more than 3-6 scaffolds.

Step 2:

Plant your tree in well-draining & consistently moist soil. When watering, put your hand in the soil to check if it's moist. Not soaking wet or bone dry. You want something in between. I prefer soil that's on average slightly drier than moist for optimal fruit quality.

Step 3:

Applications of fertilizer should be applied to every container-grown fig tree annually. Especially at the beginning of the growing season. Cover all micro nutrients and trace elements and add calcium, magnesium, sulfur & silica in higher quantities. For fig trees that are planted in the ground, periodically request soil tests from your local extension service. Cover missing nutrients at their recommended rate immediately.

Step 4:

Remove weeds, unnecessary suckers, and any competition around your fig tree.

Step 5:

Keep winter pruning to a minimum. Remove spindly weak growth, lower branches that are shaded & crisscrossing branches during dormancy. Remove diseased, damaged, or dead wood at any time.

Step 6:

Ripen fruits at the height of your growing season. That's usually when humidity is low and ambient temperatures are consistently 80-105F during the day and big swings in temperature are infrequent. Your harvest can be timed with pinching to match these more ideal conditions.

Step 7:

To pick a fig when it's ripe, harvest when the fig's neck is soft. Harvest prior to a big climatic event to avoid unnecessary damage from the rain.

Step 8:

Choose the right fig variety for your climate. Focus on varieties that are rain/humidity resistant, crack resistant, and dry easily in humid climates. Focus on varieties that don't spoil, are very tasty, and/or benefit from caprification in very hot/dry climates. And focus on varieties that ripen early and/or are hardy in short-season/cold climates.

Step 9:

Raise soil temperatures in the spring to 78F to achieve the perfect metabolic rate at an earlier date. Maintain soil temperatures below 95F in the summer. Again maintaining them at or above 78F in the fall. Sunlight hours, thermal mass, containers & mulch go a long way toward achieving the desired soil temperature.

Step 10:

Check frequently for scale, spider mites, fungus gnats & borers. I recommend an annual spray of dormant oil, horticultural oil, or neem during dormancy. Pick up fallen fruit, and fermented fruit and remove split fruit to not encourage fruit fly and wasp populations. Use Tanglefoot for ants and slugs. Protect swelling figs with organza bags, bird netting & chicken wire.

Step 11:

Rejuvenation prune when trees are heavily affected by FMV, grow slowly, are sickly, or have lower than normal production. Consider root pruning in these situations.

Step 12:

Allow your fig tree to go dormant in locations where it is possible. Don't bring your container-grown fig tree to its winter storage location too soon. Fig trees need 1-3 light or hard frosts to truly enter dormancy.

Step 13:

Avoid planting in soils that are heavily infested with root-knot nematodes. Grow in pots or graft varieties onto LSU Purple when growing in the ground where RKN is troublesome. Consider cover crops, growing in berms, and adding ample organic material to the soil every year.

Step 14:

Pick up fallen leaves and discard diseased leaves when struggling with rust issues. Apply silica either at the soil level as diatomaceous earth or as a foliar spray (Dyna-Grow Protekt). As a last resort, consider spraying organic sulfur or copper.

Step 15:

Reduce the average soil moisture or daily waterings 3 or more months prior to your first frost date for proper lignification of branches.

For more informative fig-related information, consider purchasing one of the beautiful and easy-to-read fig posters that I have created. The Fig Tree Timeline for example will help beginner fig growers along the way of their season. It will give you the information that you need at any point during your season, so if you ever get lost, you can figure out exactly the things you should be doing for your fig trees to ensure success.

3. Conclusion

Growing figs can be a rewarding experience with proper care and attention to detail. This checklist provides a comprehensive guide to ensure a successful harvest and healthy trees.

From proper pruning techniques to choosing the right variety for your climate, following these tips can make a significant impact on the growth and production of your fig trees. Remember to monitor your trees regularly for pests, disease, and soil moisture, and adjust your care accordingly. With the right care, you can enjoy fresh figs straight from your backyard for years to come.
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I'm Ross, the "Fig Boss." A YouTuber educating the world on the wonderful passion of growing fig trees. Apply my experiences to your own fig journey to grow the best tasting food possible.
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