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  • Fig Tree Nutrition... Fertilizer and Feed Schedule

    Adequate fertilization of potted fig trees will reward you with more edible produce at the end of the fruiting season. Providing the fig trees with proper readily available nutrition will almost guarantee healthy productive growth. Feeding schedules are used by gardening hobbyists and commercial farmers, making a feed schedule for cuttings through mature trees will not only document what you feed your trees but will be helpful with diagnosing problems that occur and provide you with a reference for any needed modifications during the growing season. The documentation can be extremely helpful in replicating the successes and avoiding failures and or poor performance.

    Before a schedule is created the plant nutrient requirements and your fertilizer preferences have to be considered. There are 17 (seventeen) essential plant nutrients that are directly involved in plant metabolism and "essential" to a plants life-cycle. A deficiency in any one of the 17 essential nutrients will reduce growth and production, even though the others may be abundantly available.

    The essential nutrients can be divided into two categories, Major nutrients (Macro-nutrients) and Minor nutrients (Micro-nutrients or Trace elements);

    Major (Macro):
    Carbon (C)
    Hydrogen (H)
    Oxygen (O)

    Nitrogen (N)
    Phosphorus (P)
    Potassium (K)
    Sulfur (S)
    Calcium (Ca)
    Magnesium (Mg)

    Minor (Micro):
    Molybdenum (Mo)
    Copper (Cu)
    Boron (B)
    Manganese (Mn)
    Iron (Fe)
    Chloride (Cl)
    Nickel (Ni)
    Zinc (Zn)

    Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen are provided in Air and Water which leaves the other 14 essential nutrient to be supplied by fertilizer, supplements and or the growing medium. Basic N-P-K fertilizers provide Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK). Limestone supplies Calcium and Magnesium while Gypsum supplies Calcium and Sulfur, both provide additional micro-nutrients. Some "Complete" fertilizers include the necessary micro-nutrients which are also available in several mineral supplements like Azomite and Ironite.

    The essential nutrients have to be available to the growing plants whether they are provided thorough Organic or Mineral (chemical) means. This approach to growing potted fig trees can be summed up with Liebig's Law of minimum and Liebig's barrel, the visual representation of Liebig's law (1).
    " Just as the capacity of a barrel with staves of unequal length is limited by the shortest stave, so a plant's growth is limited by the nutrient in shortest supply."


    A feed schedule can chart the supplied nutrients and can be used to schedule application of required nutrients at the correct stage of plant growth, this is sometimes referred to as the Grow and Bloom stages. The Grow stage requires an increase of N relative to the ratios of P and K. The Bloom stage required an increase of P and a decrease of N in the N-P-K ration for best flower and fruit production. The Grow and Bloom stages can be separated by a plants growth characteristics, the trees produce new vegetative growth and fig bearing nodes in the 1st third (1/3) of the growing season, the Grow fertilizers are applied to nourish this vegetative growth. The Bloom stage fertilizers are applied at the second part of the same growing season for the development and ripening of the fig fruits / flowers. During the entire growing season any additional supplements, Calcium, Magnesium etc can be added to the schedule for future reference or inclusion.

    Providing sufficient amounts of all the necessary essential nutrients will allow the plants to grow to their optimum potential. Exploiting the science gets the most growth and production out of "sterile" growing conditions of container grown plants. Utilizing readily available and inexpensive water soluble fertilizers can get fig cuttings off to fast healthy starts, then they can easily be switched over to any preferred fertilization or growing method, organic or mineral based. Whether employing Organic or Mineral / Chemical methods of fertilization, providing all the necessary nutrients to the fig trees on a timely schedule will result in optimal growth and production.


    References:
    1. Liebig's Law Wikipedia... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebig...of_the_minimum
    2. Liebig's Barrel Video... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1_G104W6AU
    3. Plant Nutrition Wikipedia... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_nutrition
    4. Mittlieder Pre-plant... http://growfood.com/wp-content/uploa...eps_Chpt_1.pdf
    5. GH Hydroponic Feed schedules... http://generalhydroponics.com/feedcharts/
    6. Fertilizer Database... http://agr.wa.gov/PestFert/Fertilize...tDatabase.aspx
    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 14 photos.
    Last edited by AscPete; 04-03-2017, 10:32 AM.
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

  • #2
    Excellent thank you Pete!
    Rafael
    Zone 10b, Miami, FL

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      You're welcome.
      Thanks for commenting, just thought that I would "put it out" for discussion.

  • #3
    Thanks for taking the time to explain this topic. Very useful.

    Do do you have any recommended products specifically for micronutrients?
    Jose in Glen Arm, Maryland.... Zone 7a

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  • #4
    Excellent write up for the group.
    newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks.

  • #5
    Thanks for the info!

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      You're welcome.

  • #6
    Lots of great information and very beneficial for people just starting out like my self. Thank you.
    Zone 5B: Rotterdam, NY

    YouTube

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    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      You're welcome.
      I'm glad it helps...

  • #7
    This is SO HELPFUL Pete! Thank you for once again posting so much great information in one place for our members to refer back to if in doubt on what is needed to be successful in this addiction.. OOPS! I mean wonderful hobby that completely takes over our minds.. Lol! Pete you are awesome as always, thanks a whole bunch! πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ
    My Plant Inventory: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...HZcBjcsxMwQ7iY

    Cuttings Available 2022:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...fxsT1DuH8/edit

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      You're welcome.
      Gardening is my hobby! Producing figs is just an extension of that addiction...

  • #8
    For in ground trees...

    Per Dr Powell at Petals from the Past...1st growing season, 1/2 cup 13-13-13 fertilizer. Follow with 1 cup calcium nitrate (or 1/2 cup ammonium nitrate) in early May and repeat in mid June (zone 8b). During 2nd season start at same rate 3 times, increasing each time by 50%. By 3rd and 4th season, only 2 applications are needed (early March and mid June). Continue using 13-13-13 fertilizer above at 2-3 cups per plant in in early march followed by 2-4 cups of calcium nitrate (or 1-2 cups of ammonium nitrate) in mid June. Maintain soil ph at 6.0-7.0. In year 5 increase the fertilizer to 5-6 cups. Follow with a light application of calcium nitrate (1/2-1 cup) following harvest, especially if trees have borne a large crop.
    Last edited by bamafig; 08-07-2016, 12:37 AM.

    Comment


    • HarveyC
      HarveyC commented
      Editing a comment
      FYI - I don't believe the ammonium nitrate option is possible for most folks. Even as a commercial grower I can't get it since federal regulations since the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City require that it be stored in secured facilities.

    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for sharing that info.
      For any quantity of in-ground trees a soil test is usually advisable to determine how much and what is actually necessary as far as fertilizers.

  • #9
    Can this be added to the frequently referenced list of topics?
    Jose in Glen Arm, Maryland.... Zone 7a

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Any topics and links can be added.

  • #10
    Great info as usual. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.
    Bill - Long Island, NY 7a
    Wish List: Glacia Negra and any fig from Bari.

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks and You're welcome.
      It will help in future discussions to be able to link to a more detailed and concise explanation of how and why.

  • #11
    Somewhere I once read that higher potassium levels also allow plants to withstand winter freezes better so that is something some folks in colder zones may want to consider when developing their schedule.
    My fig photos <> My fig cuttings (starts late January) <> My Youtube Videos

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for sharing this info.
      Its mentioned as 'increasing / enhancing winter hardiness' in documents,
      https://www.ipni.net/ppiweb/bcrops.nsf/$webindex/84CBB51751971AB3852568F000673A10/$file/98-3p04.pdf
      Last edited by AscPete; 08-07-2016, 12:37 PM.

    • Jamie0507
      Jamie0507 commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for sharing Harvey! Would dyna-grow's Protek formula (0-0-3) be helpful for this purpose then? I imagine that it could be a helpful addition as we inch closer to the end of the season..

    • HarveyC
      HarveyC commented
      Editing a comment
      Sure thing, Jamie. I would tink so, theough I don't know how the silicone in that actually works in the plant. I remember someone else using that before. The potassium thiosulfate I use is 0-0-25 with 17% sulfur. Some fertilizers have high salt content which is best avoided.

  • #12
    Thanks for all the great info!!

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      You're welcome.

  • #13
    I've been successful using Miracle-Gro Shake 'N Feed All Purpose (12-4-8) and Tomato Fruit & Vegetables (9-4-12) successfully this growing season, in addition to the other feed schedules shown in the OP...
    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 4 photos.
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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    • shawnjames70
      shawnjames70 commented
      Editing a comment
      Ive been using MG shake n feed too, bought 4 containers marked down from 15.00 to 3.98..😁

  • #14
    Hmm...thanks Pete. I didn't see all the attached stuff in the OP originally. I was pretty sure before, but now it looks like I can confirm I have been pretty severely under feeding my trees. Although I am going to forgive myself due to total lack of time this year, at least my trees got watered regularly.
    Calvin, Wish list is to finish working on the new house, someday.
    Bored? Grab a rake, paint roller, or a cordless drill and come over!

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      ...
      You're welcome.

      Note the feed schedules include supplements of Limestone and Micro nutrients (Ironite) much of the essential nutrients are included in the Shake 'N Feeds...

  • #15
    When is it best to stop fertilizing for the year?

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  • #16
    Great information, Pete and much appreciated by me and many other newbie's learning about how best to grow our trees and maximize health and production... all part of the journey....

    Cheers,
    Tony
    Tony - Zone 6A
    WL- Good Health, a 60 lb Striped Bass, a Boone and Crockett Typical Buck, bushels of ripe Black Madeira figs, bushels of ripe Hachiya and other tasty Diospyros Kaki Persimmons

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks...
      It was intended to be helpful for better fig production.

  • #17
    The feed schedules can also be modified for use with fig trees with growth severely retarded by nutrient deficiencies, known FMV infection(s) and or being severely root bound in small containers. All the necessary ingredients can be purchased at any "Big Box Store". They are supplied healthy well aerated soil with beneficial soil microbes and placed on a fertigation schedule, the fertilizers provide all the essential required nutrients and can be easily increased if there is accelerated early growth.
    Click image for larger version

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    The trees typically have to be bare-rooted, possibly pruned to remove sections of extremely close inter-node spacing and or existing growing tips then up potted to a well aerated potting mix. Most commercially available potting mixes will work with the addition of some additional Perlite (sifted through a window screen to remove perlite dust). If done during the growing season they can be bare-rooted in a water bath to reduce damage to existing roots. Once established the trees could be switched over to a 100% Organic fertilizer feed schedule.
    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 3 photos.
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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    • #18
      The Fertilizer Database (Reference #6 in the OP) is extremely useful in helping to choose which commercially available fertilizers and supplements to use, attached is a fertilizer comparison chart that was used to select some of the fertilizers in my inventory. I always have Epoma-tones, Miracle-Gro All Purpose and Dolemite Limestone on hand, the other granular fertilizers (except for Azomite) are being trialled. Note, many of the "Micro-Nutrients" or "Trace Elements" are also available in the potting mixes (Peat Moss, Pine Bark, etc), compost and soils used for growing fig trees. Click image for larger version

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      Last edited by AscPete; 10-08-2016, 10:08 AM. Reason: edited chart and size
      Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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      • #19
        From a USDA document from info and research published for commercial fig growing industry in California and Israel...

        https://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/15714/PDF
        Literature concerning fig-tree fertilization is scarce. From a practical viewpoint, the fertilization requirements of figs depend on soil type, organic matter content, and pH, as well as on the nutritional demands of the crop. Figs prefer alkaline soils, so lime has to be applied if the pH is lower than 6.0. The optimal'pH ranges between 6.0 and 8.0.

        Proebsting and Tate (1952) observed that foliar concentration of net and total nitrogen decreased during the growing season. Similar results were obtained by Proebsting and Warner (1954), who noted decrease of nitrogen and phosphorus content as the season progressed, while potassium content increased up to the middle of the growth season and calcium and magnesium contents increased gradually from the beginning to the end of the growth season.
        The bold text points to the relevance of Grow and Bloom fertilization as mentioned in the OP, but notes that Phosphorus can also be "reduced" in the Bloom stage.

        For breba producing fig varieties where fig production occurs at the beginning of the growing season you could extrapolate that an "increase" in Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium at the beginning of the season would benefit production and its been my observation that early fertilization along with uninterrupted "irrigation" results in minimal breba fig drop.
        Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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        • #20
          Well this was nice. Could explain why my tree hasn't grown this much this year compared to last. Also my fruit seem to have stopped growing which means I'm probably lacking in nutrients the figs need to develop.
          Proudly Serving in the United States Armed Forces, 2009-2017
          Everyone should have a green thumb

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          • #21
            Pete, this is an absolutely amazing topic, thank you for sharing all this important information
            New Milford, CT, Zone 6a
            Wishlist: Desert King, Sucrette, LSU Purple

            Comment


            • AscPete
              AscPete commented
              Editing a comment
              You're welcome...

          • #22
            First, this is a great thread - thanks for posting it. I'm curious, what is the general sentiment among the group regarding chemical fertilization and edibles? I have to admit it surprises me to see references for products like Ironite associated with figs. Intent of my question isn't to veer off into organic versus chemical territory, really it's not. There are clearly folks here who are more than backyard hobbyists and I'm curious as to what type of regimes you use. Full disclosure, figs are the first edible that I've made any sort of commitment to growing aside from the odd pepper plant or three. My experience prior to that has been all ornamentals. That said, when I started with figs I felt I needed to re-think/re-learn fertizilation methods to account for the edible factor...and I'm still learning.
            Dallas, TX (zone 8a)
            Want List: Coll de Dama de Ciutat, Noire de Barbentane, Gris de Saint Jean, Bordissot Negra Rimada, Paratjal Negra

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            • moonlight
              moonlight commented
              Editing a comment
              I am just a backyard hobbyists and my had is spinning but I do keep reading

          • #23
            Blake ,

            You're welcome...

            Questions and discussions are always welcomed...

            The majority of my purchased fertilizers are actually organic but I'm not a stickler and use inorganic fertilizers where they can be applied most effectively, i.e. water soluble (nutrient solutions) with guaranteed analysis of 'complete' plant nutrients.

            Most 'Chemical Fertilizers' are more refined and either do not contain any heavy metals and contaminants or very little, usually much less that most Organic Fertilizers. More heavy metals and contaminants are present in (most) Organic Fertilizer as seen in the analysis at the Fertilizer Database, note that some "Heavy Metals" are also essential plant nutrients.

            The only issue with Ironite 1-0-1 (4.5% Iron) is the naturally occurring Arsenic which cannot be absorbed by plants and is much less than Azomite, an "Organic" Mineral Supplement.

            Hydroponic "Chemical" Fertilizers have taken it one step further and have made the nutrients available in more readily absorbed compounds.

            Regardless of which Organic or Chemical Fertilizer used they still have to be broken down into the same chemical compounds and elements that are readily absorbed by the roots, the Chemical / Inorganic fertilizers are simply provided in less complex compounds.
            Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

            Comment


            • #24
              I'm becoming more and more interested in hydroponic fertilizers for the primary reason that my window for fertilizers potted plants, figs or otherwise, is generally closed during the summer months due to heat (Texas)...too much stress for them to break down/absorb solids. Liquids are certainly more inefficient - they don't stay in the soil as long and application process takes more time - but performance in my trials has been promising.

              Your point about heavy metals being found in both organic and chemical fertilizers is a good one to make. I'm not too familiar with Azomite (though no lead in that, right?) but I will point to liquid seaweed which contains arsenic and iron and is one such example of an organic product that may be better suited for ornamentals than edibles. I thought the arsenic in Ironite has been proven to be more soluble that previously reported (which has led to litigation in the US) plus there's the lead content.

              I point these examples out not to make a comparison of one versus the other but to raise a flag for folks new to growing edibles such that they know to ask questions and do some research before making their fertilization choices.
              Dallas, TX (zone 8a)
              Want List: Coll de Dama de Ciutat, Noire de Barbentane, Gris de Saint Jean, Bordissot Negra Rimada, Paratjal Negra

              Comment


              • AscPete
                AscPete commented
                Editing a comment
                The Azomite analysis is shown in post #18 above...

                Arsenic and Lead are naturally present in most mineral soils and would already exist at much higher levels than could ever be affected by adding small quantities of fertilizers, they are measured / reported in Parts Per Million (PPM). The old 'Reports' about Ironite were based on 'Studies' where extrapolated quantities of the fertilizer would be ingested / eaten by 'children' and have since been proven false. The 'Contaminants' exist naturally in the environment and soils and are a part of most readily available fertilizers.

                If looking for 'uncontaminated' fertilizer sources then research Hydroponics and Hydroponic fertilizers.

              • Anna Bee
                Anna Bee commented
                Editing a comment
                This is a great thread AscPete, thank you. Still trying to wrap my head around nutrient requirements/ feed schedules (your posted schedule is a big help), so I've got lots of re-reading to do.

                I especially appreciate these comments about heavy metals/ toxic contaminants in fertilizer - there's plenty of conflicting info out there on "organic" versus "chemical" options - much of it based on bad science (or no science). It's good to have things explained cogently.

                Educational awesomeness, as usual!

            • #25
              Pete, Have you tried any of the Dr.Earth fertilizers? They seem to have a good line up of fertilizers that can be found at certain big box home improvement stores.
              Tim-Zone 8a/Northport, Alabama
              WL- Calderona, Black Tuscan, Genovese Nero AF or
              any good dark figs.

              Comment


              • AscPete
                AscPete commented
                Editing a comment
                Yes, I tried 'Life' 5-5-5 NPK last season and will continue the trials this coming season...
                It worked well, same as Espoma Garden-tone but it has a greater variety of microbes, similar to the Espoma Bio-tone Starter Plus.
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