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Early Ripening Fig Varieties

Updated: Jun 27

Thousands of fig varieties exist, each with different ripening times, categorized as early, mid-season, or late, mainly influenced by their genetics.

Today's article will focus on early-ripening fig varieties so that you can choose a better fig variety for your growing location. I'll also give you tips on how to ripen figs earlier, the benefits of earlier-ripening figs

As always if you want to see more fig-related content like this, feel free to subscribe to the monthly Fig Boss newsletter at the top of the page.

Keep in mind: fig varieties that produce breba are by default early to ripen. Fig trees can produce 2 distinct crops of figs. The breba crop is the first crop of figs that ripens 30-45 days before the main crop of figs. While brebas offer an earlier harvest, not every fig variety produces them, so it’s important to do your research.

However, today’s focus is on the main crop of figs, which forms on the fig tree’s new growth during the growing season. The main crop is typically more plentiful and reliable than the breba crop, and many climates prefer this crop for its superior flavor and fruit quality. Understanding the distinction between the two crops is essential.

Brebas and early main crop-producing fig varieties are particularly advantageous if you live in regions with mild summers, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and other Northern and mild areas of Europe.

In the United States, these areas can be found within the Pacific Northwest and Northern California like the cities of San Fransico & Seattle. While these areas aren't necessarily mild in the summer, Northern areas of the United States like the Northeast or a city like Chicago where there's a limited number of frost-free growing days can also greatly benefit from early ripening fig varieties.

So… How Do We Define an Early Fig Variety?

Where I’m growing fig trees in the Philadelphia area, for example, the first main crop figs typically ripen around August 1st, without any artificial start to the growing season. If you can spot the small, pea-sized main crop figs on the branches around the end of May, say May 25th, they will ripen approximately 70 days later, around August 1st. Early varieties ripen about 65 to 75 days after fruit set, mid-season varieties take 75 to 85 days, and late varieties require 90 to 150 days.

Unfortunately, these estimates can vary based on your conditions.

In regions with mild summers, such as the United Kingdom or the Pacific Northwest, early ripening figs might take 90 to 100 days instead of the typical 65 to 75 days due to lower average temperatures. Optimal ripening occurs when temperatures average around 78°F, as heat accelerates the fig tree's metabolism. Nighttime cooling can slow this process, but maintaining an average temperature close to 78°F is ideal for early ripening.

Here are some of the key benefits of choosing early-ripening fig varieties:

1. Extended Harvest Season:

Early ripening figs allow you to extend your harvest season, enjoying fresh figs for a longer period. This can be particularly rewarding in areas with short growing seasons, where standard varieties may not have enough time to fully ripen.

2. Minimized Risk of Spoilage:

Figs are prone to spoilage by insects, pests, and weather factors, especially as they reach peak ripeness. Early ripening varieties mature faster, minimizing their exposure to these threats and ensuring a higher yield of high-quality fruit.

3. Increased Marketability:

Early ripening figs offer a competitive advantage for growers who sell their produce. They can be marketed before the peak season, giving them a head start and potentially fetching higher prices.

Choosing Early Fig Varieties

Now, let’s discuss some varieties that produce figs within these time frames. It's important to note that while some may not strictly fall within the 65 to 75-day window, I still consider the following early ripening fig varieties: 

Let's discuss some specific early ripening varieties in more detail. The top four varieties that must be mentioned are Pastiliere, Ronde de Bordeaux, Celeste, and Florea also known as Michurinska 10. These are among the most common and widely accepted early ripening figs. These four varieties are often used as benchmarks against other figs. 

  1. Celeste - widely grown in the South and other parts of the United States, ripens early in the season. 

  2. Pastiliere - popular in France and other parts of Europe. 

  3. Florea - is well-regarded in Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria & Hungary. 

  4. Ronde de Bordeaux - originated in France, but is now grown commercially in Africa due to its popularity.

Despite its reputation, Celeste or Florea often doesn’t get as much appreciation as the other two. However, Florea is highly valued for its early ripening and hardiness, though it may be considered the least tasty of the four. Celeste has numerous variants, and I have written an article detailing them. My favorite variant is Black Celeste, which I would prefer over both Ronde de Bordeaux and Pastiliere.

Another notable variety, which may ripen a week or two later than the first group, is Hardy Chicago. Like Celeste, Hardy Chicago has many names due to inconsistent and irresponsible naming practices among collectors, leading to over a hundred synonyms.

Thankfully, due to mutation or changes in epigenetics, some strains or sources of Hardy Chicago ripen earlier than others. Despite some growers’ reluctance to cultivate Hardy Chicago due to its slightly later ripening, I believe it’s one of the best varieties in this early ripening category.

Other Early Ripening Fig Varieties:

  • Iranian Candy - initially called Rhaasti’s Northern Persian Unknown. Introduced by my friend Steve in Maryland.

  • Yellow Neches - potentially a Ficus Palmata hybrid. Generally, I’ve seen the Palmata genes positively impact ripening dates.

  • Figo Moro da Caneva - one of my favorite early figs. This commercial variety is popular in northern Italy or the town of Caneva.

  • Campaniere - a French variety discovered near Paris by Figues du Monde. Exceptional eating quality.

  • Teramo - known by other names like Nebo and Brandon Street Unknown, ripens very early. 

  • Verdolino - a localized variety from Northern Italy. Especially around Lake Garda. Named by the amazing Francesco Omezzolli. Also check out Salame: a slight variation of Verdolino.

  • Albo - popularized by commercial grower Siro Petracchi in Tuscany. It’s a large and very early honey berry fig with a large eye.

  • Paradiso (Siro) - another fig from Siro. This fig has the best chance of matching the original Paradiso depicted by Gallesio. It is incredibly early, tasty, and even produces breba.

  • San Biagio - is named after an Italian town known for its cherry-flavored figs. 

  • Castel Trosino (Mario’s #48) - discovered by my friend Mario in Connecticut during his travels in Italy. 

  • Planera - mentioned by Montserrat Pons in his book "The Fig Trees of the Balearic Islands.”

  • De Tres Esplets - Also from Pons’ collection.

  • White Marseilles & Barbillone - This fig, popular in Europe, was introduced to the United States by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. 

  • Dottato - known by various names like Kadota or Peter's Honey in the United States, they all ripen early and can produce a tasty breba crop.

Celeste, already discussed as a significant variety, has numerous variants or "children" developed in the 1950s by the LSU breeding program to try and improve Celeste. By my estimation, they did not succeed in that regard, but they did introduce a handful of early and wonderful new varieties including Improved Celeste, LSU O’Rourke, LSU Purple, LSU Tiger, and LSU Scott's Yellow, all of which ripen early. 

More Varieties:

  • Longue d’Aout - the name translates to “long of August” indicating it ripens early in less-than-ideal fig-growing climates.

  • Dall'Oso - popularized by Belfiore Nursery in Italy and was described and depicted in Gallesio’s manuscript many years ago.

  • Little Ruby - a seedling of Hardy Chicago bred by Denny McGaughy. It's one of my favorite figs for its reliably short hang time.

  • Fignomenal - a dwarf mutation of Hardy Chicago.

  • Brianzolo Rosso - a creamy caramel-flavored fig from Italy.

  • Hative d’Argenteuil - Hative translates to "early." It's a cherry-flavored grey-skinned fig with an exceptional eating experience.

  • Neruciollo d’Elba - a small berry-flavored fig with a bitter skin from the island of Elba. I wonder if Napoleon ate these.

  • Verdino del Nord (VR) or Figoin - my favorite variety for many years translating to, “Verdino of the North.” Verdino means green fig and in Tuscany, Verdino is one of the most popular varieties, but in Northern Italy where it’s cooler and rains are more frequent, Verdino of the North is their localized and very different version of Verdino. It has other names such as Zigalino, Figalino, and possibly Verdal.

  • Nin ZS and Nin V - from Croatia. Shoutout to Michal for finding these in the town of Nin. 

  • Souadi - Introduced by Bass at Trees of Joy. If allowed to hang and fully develop its flavor, this fig was a favorite of mine when dried.

  • Korai Lila - Also known as “Early Purple” in Hungary.

  • Negretta - a wild seedling found in Italy and introduced by Sergio Carlini, a scholar of fig trees and grape vines.

  • Rosselino - Tuscany has a tradition of sun-drying these figs and eating them during the winter. It’s one of my favorites for dried purposes.

  • Hunt - there’s a lot of history with this fig variety. It was used in LSU’s breeding program alongside Smith and Celeste. Unfortunately, the decision to grow it has taken me a long time. It’s wonderful.

  • Figue Jaune - an early variety introduced by Figues du Monde. Unfortunately, it splits too often here and should be reserved for dry climates.

  • Becane - an underrated French fig popularized by Baud’s nursery in France. I cannot wait to learn more about it.

  • Marseillaise - another underrated French fig popularized by Baud. Almost as good as the amazing Verdino of the North, Verdino del Nord.

  • Unk Spain - Peter Lee in NJ introduced this fig. As the name suggests, it’s an unknown variety from Spain.

  • La Magdaleine - another Figues du Monde introduction. It’s the honey-fig version of Campaniere.

  • Dalmatie - shockingly early for its size. Especially, if the breba crop is not present.

  • Barile - a honey fig found at Pomona Gardens.

  • Constans - a commonly found fig in the Southwest of France. It’s their version of Hardy Chicago or Celeste. Some other names for it are La Croix Blanche, Las Carreteres, Aunan, and possibly Eaubonne.

  • Yellow Long Neck or Golden Rainbow - huge yellow honey figs that ripen surprisingly early for their size.

  • San Antonio

  • Bosniaco - found at Pomona Gardens in Italy. Perhaps a variation of White Marseilles.

  • Ughiarolo - the nail fig. This is because an odd mutation creates a small fold in its skin. Also, look for Potenza from the late great Mario in CT.

  • Montalcino Rosso

  • Pecciolo Bianco - a variety local to Carmignano in Italy.

My Favorite Early Ripening Fig Varieties:

That is a long list of varieties, isn’t it? How can one possibly choose? I prefer specific flavor profiles, better textures, overall performance, and as a result, their quality in my humid climate. As always, it’s best to choose varieties tailored to your climate.

For everyone else in dry climates, I would place the following varieties in a category that offers a better eating experience:

  • Dalmatie

  • Verdino del Nord (VR)

  • Rossellino

  • Black Celeste

  • Hardy Chicago

  • Campaniere

  • Figo Moro da Caneva

  • Marseillaise

  • Nerucciolo d’Elba

  • Ronde de Bordeaux

  • Nin V

  • Nin ZS

  • Verdolino

  • San Biagio

  • Hative d’Argenteuil

  • Castel Trosino

  • Pastiliere

  • Planera

  • Longue d’Aout

  • White Marseilles or Barbillone

Additional Notes:

Factors like tree age and specific growing conditions can highly influence ripening times. For those in regions with shorter growing seasons, it is advisable to experiment with different varieties, planting them either in the ground or in containers, and observe their ripening patterns over three to five years to determine the best options for early harvests.

For instance, a variety called Barbillone, a mutation of White Marseilles, ripened earlier than expected last year, contradicting my expectation that it would ripen about two weeks later than the classic early varieties, Ronde de Bordeaux and Pastiliere. This example highlights why it’s important to try various fig varieties in your location, as ripening times can vary significantly.

Factors That Affect Ripening Speed:

  • The soil temperature controls a fig tree's metabolism. It is by far the number one contributor to ripening speed.

Ensuring an average soil temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit, balanced between daytime and nighttime temperatures, is crucial. Increasing sunlight exposure, growing figs in pots to allow the sun to warm the root system, and planting fig trees near heat-absorbing structures like large boulders and buildings can help maintain optimal temperatures. The proper site selection is key. 

  • Avoiding excessive pruning is also one of the most effective ways to encourage early ripening. Preserving the apical and lateral buds ensures more energy for producing early figs.

Excessive pruning can delay the development of the new growth and therefore its fig production, potentially causing figs to ripen two to three weeks later. Preserving the higher buds on the fig tree can provide a significant advantage in achieving earlier ripening figs. Here is a link to another article I've written about pruning fig trees for further details on properly pruning fig trees.

Choosing Breba Fig Varieties for Earlier Ripening Figs:

As I said, the breba crop ripens approximately 30 to 45 days earlier than the main crop. Varieties like Campaniere, Verdino del Nord (VR), Nerucciolo d’Elba, Verdolino, Longue d’Aout, Barbillone, Paradiso (Siro), Figo Moro da Caneva, and others can not only produce an early main crop but also a reliable breba crop making these varieties even more special for growers in short-seasoned climates.

For a full list of breba producers, check out this article: Breba Figs: A Fig Tree's First Crop and the Varieties That Produce Them 

If you have any varieties you would like to add to this list, please comment below. I’m sure there are varieties I have not mentioned.

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1 Kommentar

thanks for the heads up on these varieties

I'm by ocean city maryland, 3 miles inland and warmer then the Philadelphia area but still seek earlier figs

i saw your video on this topic but reading the names of the figs helped drive it home well done

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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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