Pinching Fig Trees | 3 Very Important Applications & A Rundown of its History
Updated: Dec 29, 2022
In the past I've talked a lot about pinching fig trees. I've become somewhat of a champion of the technique. Although I'm not the one who had the original thought to summer prune a fig tree-- I'm sure that's been thought a 1000 times before throughout history. But that's what pinching is, isn't it? We're simply removing the apical buds or growth tips during the growing season. It's called pinching because that form of pruning can be accomplished with our fingers. Just like you'd pinch your now very sad child on the cheek. I bet you didn't know that this blog is about more than figs. It's about time someone stood up for these children.
The History of Pinching:
Pinching is an old technique that was passed down from fig grower to fig grower. The old knowledge stated from a grower named Vasile many years ago on the now defunct Fig4Fun forum, was that pinching when performed after the 5 or 6th leaf will encourage the fruits to form. And not only that, but it was said to speed the ripening of those fruits by a whole 2 weeks!
Since then.. many growers have summer pruned their fig trees and it's created quite the controversy among hobbyist growers. I have to regrettably say that I am at the forefront of that controversy because I've been the biggest proponent of this technique over the last 5 years.
Unfortunately the controversy has overshadowed some really important applications of pinching or summer pruning fig trees. In this blog post, I want to cover 3 in particular with you all:
The first application of pinching was discussed in Monserrat Pons' book and is called Argenteuil pruning. This technique can increase the size and earliness of our breba crop! Simply remove the apical buds leaving behind two lateral buds at the beginning of the active growing season. Check out the video below to hear an expansion of my thoughts on the topic.
Another application discussed in his book, "Fig Trees of the Baleric Islands" is called Rivers pruning. This application of pinching can increase your harvests and allows you as the grower to time your crop when you want.
The 3rd application is a new thought of mine that mainly focuses on bringing our trees into hormonal balance. Often when a fig tree is young or when our trees send up suckers from the soil after a hard prune, those trees need some intervention to aid in fruiting. These trees tend to grow very quickly and neglect fruiting because of their hormonal imbalance. The fruit buds however can typically form on these trees (with the appropriate amount of light duration and intensity), but often those fruit buds will be a bit slower to swell and in some cases, the fruit buds may not swell at all in the duration of your growing season. Pinching can stop the growth at the apical bud location and change the hormones in a way that brings the tree back into balance. This is the main difference between winter pruning and summer pruning. Winter pruning helps to encourage lots of the growth the following season, while summer pruning helps to encourage flowering. And as some of you may know, the fig is an inside out flower.
Checkout my latest video on this topic here:
Check out another blog post of mine regarding winter pruning here: https://www.figboss.com/post/a-comprehensive-guide-to-pruning-fig-trees-in-containers-large-in-ground-trees-young-trees-old