Updated: Sep 30
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
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.
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.
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.
Remove weeds, unnecessary suckers, and any competition around your fig tree.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.