Wrapping up the Growing Season | The Best New Fig Varieties of 2022
2022 was a great year for new fig varieties. I managed to properly evaluate 16 varieties that I believe are among the very best and will perform well even in humid climates. I honestly can't believe it. 16 is a huge number. Usually I have around 5 new additions to share with you all at the end of the year. I remember some favorites last year were, Black Celeste, Verdolino, Vagabond, Nin V, Salato and maybe a couple more I'm forgetting. Either I'm getting lucky (which I think we definitely had some nice surprises this year) or I'm getting a lot better at making preliminary judgements when I'm deciding which new fig varieties I want to grow.
These figs will consistently ripen a high quality fruit and while not all of these are the best tasting fig you'll ever eat, they're consistent. And consistency in humid places (because most fig varieties are quickly destroyed by moisture) is the name of the game. The best tasting fig is simply the one that's the most ripe and consistently at the highest quality. A comprehensive list and descriptions of the characteristics that determine if a fig variety can tough it out in times of moisture can be found here: It's by far the best contribution I've made to fig growers like myself because I'm giving you guys the tools to create your own list similar to the one you'll see below.
The One - This fig was a no brainer. Instantly I realized how good this fig is because of its incredibly short hang time. In about a day and half it's shriveled on the tree. A day and a half prior, the fig is green and hard and inedible, so the susceptibility window is very short. Because it dries so easily, it tastes great pretty much every time and I imagine this Celeste variant is only going to taste better.
Risoulet - Another instant favorite. Similar to Black Mission, but with a better skin, texture, flavor and hang time. It also seems to ripen quite early, but I can't exactly put my finger on when yet. The tree is rather unhealthy (I'll rejuvenation prune it this winter), but considering the set backs, it still performed well. The hang time is 2-3 days until shriveled and the skin prevents rain damage from quite a bit of rain that I had during the time that some of these figs were ripening. The skin prevents water from seeping into the skin and lowering the brix. The texture is also comparable to a Coll de Dama. It's very thick. It's definitely one of the best new figs I've come across.
San Biaigo - This variety originally comes from Pomona Gardens in Italy and is still quite a bit rare here in the US. I am very pleased to have acquired this fig because it's always among the earliest to ripen there. Although I realized the potential of this fig last year, I've been very pleased to learn that the flavor is above and beyond what I originally thought. The fig is small and performed well in cold & dry weather. I'm still a bit unsure of the how the skin will handle moisture and how often it will split, but I think it's too early and too tasty not to mention that it's a great fig. Lower than average vigor and has a good ability to set fruit even in low light conditions and therefore is rather productive.
Camuna Small Black - This fig came from my good friend Bill B. who took a chance on this fig. It's an old fig listed on the Figs4Fun variety page. The description reads, "Cuttings came from Italy and may have been mislabeled, as it clearly is not a dark fig." Whatever this fig is, it's special. Bill recognized that and I immediately realized that it's among the best figs I have. The fig has a fantastic berry flavor, good ability to dry on the tree with great rain resistance.
Molondra Blanca - This is a Pons fig that has the right shape and over a period of very foggy, rainy, hazy days, this was one of the few varieties to still produce a quality fig. Highly flavored with a nice berry flavor. Mid-late season. If you read Pons' book or go to his website, you'll see that the rain/split resistance are both great and that it's a fig that is mentioned favorably in regards to flavor: https://monserratpons.com/variedad/SMN187IB/
Unk from Rome, Italy - This was originally identified as an English Brown Turkey by a grower on OurFigs. I came across photos of it and didn't think it was an English Brown Turkey at all. After evaluating it this year, I can confirm that it's nothing like it, but instead has a desirable skin that doesn't absorb moisture easily, it hangs and is shaped correctly, it has a below average hang time and it tastes fantastic with a strong berry flavor. From a respected grower, Moonlight.
Salame - An Italian friend of mine and I thought that this fig might be the same as Verdolino. After comparing them side by side, I am confident in saying that they're different. At least the Salame and Verdolino from Pomona Gardens are different. Salame is larger and has a longer neck and a shorter stem than Verdolino. It's got a nice berry flavor, is early, has the perfect shape and is pretty much along with Verdolino one of the best fig varieties you can grow in a humid place.
St. Martin - I had only ripened breba from my trees until this year. I was pleasantly surprised to see the perfect shape, short hang time and great overall performance. I don't know when it'll ripen, but the figs are berry flavored and have unbelievable productivity. The one downside is that it does need a higher light environment like Celeste or Pastiliere.
Corio Provence - Another surprise this year because I was thinking that this is just simply Sucrette with a different name. Thus far I am unconvinced either way, but it's clear that this fig is a great choice. Really nice flavor/texture and I'm leaning towards it being unique.
Barbillone - As I ripened more of these, I've realized that it does seem a bit more than just a dark skinned White Marseilles. It's truly a unique fig. Especially in texture. It's light. If a cloud could be a fig, it would be this one. It's kind of like a honey fig x sugar fig combo. I think it's right behind Zaffiro. And it didn't take long to become an instant favorite. It's that good. The skin is also one of its best assets, which prevents splitting, cracking and lowering of the brix. It's early, hardy and a below average hang time. It's got everything.
Azsalodo - I believe this fig translates to "drying on the tree." It certainly lives up to its name, but what's even better is that it's a very early fig. It ripened earlier than any of my potted figs. Earlier than Norella. The figs have a short hang time, dry quickly and have a simple sugar fig flavor, but when you let them hang a bit longer, they're quite nice with a strong dried fruit flavor. Very productive and easy to fruit.
Godfather - I really like this fig. It's a winner here. Figgy, caramel flavored, thick and jammy. A very good sugar fig. I give it a 4.5, but only because of its lack of berry flavors. This fig also seems to perform well because it dries well, has a short hang time, it's quite hardy and early.
Castel Trosino - This is a fig found by the wonderful Mario in CT. In my opinion, this is his best contribution thus far to American fig growers. It's one of the tastiest figs and earliest figs I've got. In fact, this was even Mario's earliest fig. I'm amazed that I didn't hear more about it before. Flying well under the radar.
Texas BA-1 - I saw this fig swelling on the branch and I couldn't help but think that it was Smith. If I had never heard of Texas BA-1 before, I never would have thought that it was different. I've picked hundreds of Smith figs and I can tell you that after observing it a bit more, I do see some slight differences. Those differences I'm sure will become a bit more clear in time. Regardless, the eating experience is every bit as good as Smith and this tree comes in a hardy, but higher sunlight requirement package. That's a real win in my book.
Noire de Bellone - Another fig from Baud that's no doubt a winner. These French varieties do exceptionally well here and in humid places. Varieties like Hative, Sultane, Marseillaise, Nefiach, Violette de Bordeaux, Ronde de Bordeaux, Becane, the list goes on and on. Most of my favorite figs are from France. Bellone is one that I've been after for years. After tasting it, I've realized that it's exquisite. Much more than I imagined. It also is quite productive, vigorous and not too late here. You can read more about Bellone on Baud's website: http://www.fig-baud.com/cataloguefiguiers/catbellone.html
Marseillaise - Similar to Verdino del Nord and Nerucciolo d'Elba, this is another small fig that dries easily and is big on flavor. It also like those other two is somewhat of a dwarf variety. A variety highly respected in France and in Baud's collection. A true winner: http://www.fig-baud.com/cataloguefiguiers/catfiguedemarseille.html | When dried, the flavor intensifies and it produces a very nice eating experience. I've got two of these planted in the ground to evaluate further and to aid in split resistance.