Updated: Feb 2
The video above details a lot of my thoughts on these varieties and the process of why this is happening. Check it out!
Reasons for the change of heart
For two different reasons and maybe it's a combination of both I saw very high fruit quality on a number of my in-ground trees in 2022. Specifically, the increase in fruit quality was from the trees that survived my mild winter lows and because they survived, they were able to produce fruit on older wood rather than on very fast-growing suckers like I normally see.
What happens when figs ripen from fast-growing suckers
These suckers have a tendency to not fruit much at all due to a hormonal imbalance, but because they also grow so much, those shoots can reach 10-15ft in one season!
All of these additional leaves and lack of fruit set produces a much higher amount of carbohydrates, which I believe is being stored in a higher quantity in the fruits on those particular suckers.
This increase in carbohydrates you could argue would make the fruits potentially sweeter or have a higher brix, but I think what it's actually doing here is dramatically changing the fruits. Especially in regards to the size and skin.
When fruits are larger, they definitely don't perform as well as smaller fruits in humid climates. They also don't taste as good. They typically have more problems with moisture because of a larger surface area and so my opinions on these figs have dramatically changed from prior seasons.
I covered a lot of in-depth topics regarding fig fruit quality in my interview with Eric Durtschi. Check it out below!
In 2022, there was a drought
We also had a drought in the northeast, which should decrease the size of the fruits and therefore improve quality.
It's hard to exactly pinpoint what the true reasoning is, but I have a hard time believing that the fruit produced on older wood rather than suckers from the base doesn't consistently produce a higher-quality fruit.
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The fig varieties that have become more impressive
The Grise de St. Jean fig I’m learning is absolutely fantastic when it gets established. I've noted during this season that across the board, it has the desirable skin quality that I look for that allows a fig to shed water rather than absorb it. Similar to Celeste or Smith.
I was also able to taste fruits from an older in-ground tree that I planted and they were incredible. Although this tree did not survive the winter and the fruits formed on suckers, the berry flavor was coming through on this in-ground tree a lot more than from the fruits ripened from potted trees.
See the thumbnail in the video above for what clearly looks like incredible fruit quality.
The downsides of this fig are that it takes a while to get established\ and it's also not very cold hardy, but the texture, flavor, and commercial potential are all top-notch. Because of those facts, I've been growing a number of sources of Grise de St. Jean.
One called Loretta that I've mentioned in videos as being what I thought was my favorite, but actually my somewhat established in-ground Grise de St. Jean from Prusch park that we mentioned above is proving to have the best berry intensity. I'm quite fond of that one so far, but across the board, they're all fantastic figs.
In the past, LDA has been double the size they were this season. They were still large (70-100 grams), but because the fruit was being produced on older wood rather than on suckers, the figs are smaller and therefore don't split as often.
In fact, none of them did this year, while in the past at least 50% had. I am still concerned with its size. And unfortunately, the skin on this fig can absorb water easily in rainy periods leading to spoilage.
Nonetheless, it's a very tasty fig that even has a sugar flavor similar to cotton candy. It has a nice berry flavor and a unique flavor profile that only White Triana I would place in the same category. It's actually one of the best tasting figs you can grow.