Important Varietal Characteristics for High & Consistent Fruit Quality
These are the characteristics that I believe make for the highest and most consistent fruit quality in my climate.
1. Ripening period & ripening succession. This one is pretty straightforward. They have to ripen in our season length for them to be eaten. Also they have to ripen at the optimal time of the year. Usually that is a combination of the most sunlight hours available and the right amount of heat. Ripening succession is a little less obvious. This I would define as how many figs ripen on the tree at one time. Some varieties ripen 5-6 at a time for example. Others ripen one by one or very few at a time. There's a trade off here. Varieties that ripen a lot of figs at once, will usually have a shorter crop window allowing them to ripen earlier and usually in better weather conditions. On the flip side, varieties that ripen a lot of figs at once are at risk for losing a large portion of their crop at one time due to a bad weather event. I'd personally prefer them to have an earlier starting point, but ripen a couple or a few figs at a time to make my losses during a big rain not a heartbreaking situation.
2. Superior rain resistance, split resistance, cracking resistance, resistance to temperature swings, superior drying capabilities. There are a few figs that exist like Nerucciolo d'Elba, Verdino del Nord, Sucrette (Baud), etc... that have superior drying capabilities. These even in light rain will continue to dry on the tree. They don't split, crack, they have completely closed eyes, water/humidity doesn't penetrate their skin and Mother nature doesn't often succeed at fermenting them. Even on my kitchen counter. They are like a fortress. In fact I believe there's some other genetics at play here as well. I just don't know what that is yet. For the reasons mentioned and on the discussion of the highest and most consistent fruit quality in my climate, I would put these above some highly touted varieties like Celeste, Smith, Hardy Chicago etc... And more on this subject I would like to add that cracking is certainly beautiful and eye catching, but not ideal for fruit quality. A couple things I want to touch on that contribute to cracking: One is excess nitrogen (Pons confirms this in his book in the second paragraph of 9.1). This year I fed very lightly. 4 feedings during the month of May. It's one year of data, but I've never had this little amount of cracking unless there was a big temperature swing event. This is the other big contributor to losing fruit quality. Particularly this occurs often during my fall weather. For example when daytime temperatures are 80F and that morning the temperature dips down to 45F. Cracking becomes numerous the day after and is often accentuated becoming large fissures. This phenomenon can even occur in August, but I noted it this year as early as Sept 8th.
3. Hang time. Hang time I define as the amount of days it takes from when the fig begins swelling to fully ripe. Figs with a 3-6 day hang time are ideal here because by my estimation, it's pretty likely to see some sort of moisture at least once a week. Therefore varieties that take 7+ days before picking should be very rain resistant. Otherwise a loss of fruit quality is likely to occur.