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My Favorite Early Fig Varieties

I believe that Pastiliere cannot be ignored. As Paolo Belloni has stated publicly that it would be his choice should he have to choose only 1 variety out of his collection of 700 varieties to keep. Personally I'm a big fan of this fig, but I cannot endorse it yet the way he has. As some of you know I am trialing 5 strains of Pastiliere to find one that doesn't drop and hopefully splits less often. Those are really it's two major downfalls. It also does take quite a bit of time to mature and I think ideally it should not be container grown (not to say that you cannot have success in a container). For this reason I cannot give an endorsement either way just yet. However, I am quite fond of the flavor and it should also be noted that it's also among the hardiest and earliest of all fig varieties.



I think most hobbyists would probably choose Ronde de Bordeaux as the top fig in this early ripening fig category. It's hardy, obviously early, productive, doesn't spoil easily, has high vigor, it's hard to have complaints about the flavor and my tree seems to have a nice spreading habit allowing good light penetration into the canopy. However it's not perfect and just like the Pastiliere, it has its downfalls. Frequently they split here at my location. What's incredible about that though is that even though the interior is often exposed to the elements, the fig almost never spoils. It can even sort of shrivel up into a fig candy consistency that is really quite special, but I wouldn't consider it a fig with drying capabilities. Lets call it "shriveling capabilities." For its good resistance to fermentation and spoilage you can certainly agree that this fig for many hobbyists is not a bad choice and I can't fault anyone that would choose it above all other varieties in this category.



From my point of view RdB had the top spot in this category until this season, but I have to report that Campaniere is the better overall very early ripening fig. For a couple standout reasons:


1. It doesn't split unlike RdB and Pastiliere. It also has legitimate drying capabilities and just seems to handle rain significantly better than the other two.

2. It tastes better than RdB and Pastiliere.


Campaniere:

Ripens 75 days after pinching, which means it's right there among the earliest of varieties.

Supposedly hardy to -4F (still testing).

Has drying capabilities.

High rain/split resistance.

Hang time is about 6 days.

And the eating experience is of a top tier fig. Syrupy when picked ripe. Thick and dense when shriveled. Very high sweetness. From my experience it's better overall than any of the other very early figs. Teramo, Yellow Neches, Albo, RdB, Florea, Improved Celeste, Iranian Candy, Pastiliere. None of these have this level of flavor combined with high rain/split resistance. I wonder how appropriate it would be to bring Azores Dark, Malta Black, Rosselino, Moro de Caneva and even one of the Celeste strains into the conversation assuming they ripen as early as the others mentioned. Time will tell.



If you have this variety, I would just recommend some patience. It does take some time to come into it's own and I think the flavor on my older trees are still improving each time I pick another fig. The first year I thought one of my trees was a mislabeled honey fig. Also.. the ants do love it, so Tanglefoot is not a bad idea.

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