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  • pruning an in ground Chicago Hardy for zone 5b?

    I read a lot of the threads on pruning:
    Pruning a Chicago Hardy (6b)
    Pruning fig tree for breba.
    Productive Container Grown Fig Trees; What? and How!
    Increasing fig production: Breba and Maincrop
    pruning question

    I know there are certain generally accepted guidelines for fig pruning. Most seem not applicable for me, since I'm in 5b and I'm growing in ground.

    Even when I cover my CH (wrapping in roofing tar paper, stuffing with leaves, cage, more leaves, and wrapping again in burlap), the certainly of a -20F week means I can only save a foot [or maybe two] of the previous year's growth (measured from the ground). There are years when I don't cover at all, and it just shoots from the ground like my maypops. It's basically a perennial at this point, which kind of makes it different than others.

    In this scenario, how "should" one prune? (Every year is just going to be new wood)

    From a fruit production standpoint, I understand why bush form is optimal over a tree. However, even in bush form, there's some level of pruning I assume - 3 to 4 leaders/stems? Is that what I should be aiming for? Do I let the fig just bush out as much as possible (laisse-faire) and just prune branches rubbing/crowding against each other?
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Here is my CH, had 2 but traded one.
    It has 4 main, but I keep them clean for a few feet from the soil, then let them go for the season, I try to keep the center open for sun and air flow.
    This one will be going in ground next spring.

    Once this one goes dormant, I will take off most of that top growth to keep it from being too big.

    And it gives me a few cuttings to mess with.

    In your case being taken down to 1 to 2 feet every year, nature seems to be pruning it for you, just take off the dead stuff and seal the wounds.

    Attached Files
    Kevin, N. Ga 7b Cheers!

    Wishing all of you a bountiful harvest!

    Comment


    • JMF75
      JMF75 commented
      Editing a comment
      Nice looking tree. How old is your CH ? I'm putting mine inground next spring as well.

    • Ktrain
      Ktrain commented
      Editing a comment
      This is on it's 3rd year, it had suffered some frost damage in our mid April freak frost...which set it behind about a month....it is loaded now though.

  • #3
    You can prune to a cut and cover type like Ross the Fig Boss was promoting as growing fig trees in containers is obsolete. Basically cut it down to 12" or so every fall and cover that with the insulating materials. You would have to check the exact details and maybe wait for updates on how it went this year to see if it worked out as hoped.

    A low tunnels or some sort of greenhouse cover in spring is recommended to jump start the new growth.
    NNJ 6B
    Wishlist: Colar d'Albatera, Mary Magdalene's and the Virgin Mary's Fig, Red Lebanese BV

    Comment


    • #4
      Here's my Hardy Chicago. It was pruned heavily and low every winter so that it can be protected in the winter. It produced 160 ripe figs. This year, it should produce more as the trees matures.

      Click image for larger version

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      Cleveland South - Zone 5B.

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      • Red_Sun
        Red_Sun commented
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        Jake, do you cover the trees in your hoop house over winter?

      • jake44141
        jake44141 commented
        Editing a comment
        Red_Sun, welcome back. they get covered with straws. Fairly simple. 5 bales of straws should be enough to 28 trees.

      • Casey
        Casey commented
        Editing a comment
        jake44141 do you have a cover over that hoop house during the winter, or is it open to elements?

    • #5
      Here is my HC. I tried different methods with winter protection. Finally I decided to wrap it with carpet. No winter damage last winter.

      It has about a dozen branches, all at 3.5-4' level. Some of them are allowed to have two new fruiting branches. So I get about 20 fruiting branches. All branches are loaded with figs, about 7-8 each. So I expect to get about 150 figs from this tree.

      For next year, I'm going to retain about one more foot of new growth and let tree grow taller. But 5' is all I want it to be and that is good for winter protection. I'll also remove two main branches since they somehow cross. Very happy about the shape of this tree.

      Attached Files
      Princeton, New Jersey, 6B
      flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/red-sun/albums
      My FigBid: https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=RedSun

      Comment


      • schampag
        schampag commented
        Editing a comment
        Red_Sun Do you have any pictures of the HC with its winter protection?

      • Red_Sun
        Red_Sun commented
        Editing a comment
        schampag See below.

    • #6
      Red_Sun What part of this was pruned last year? Is this about right? The green is where you pruned before you wrapped it in the winter?
      Attached Files

      Comment


      • #7
        Originally posted by jake44141 View Post
        Here's my Hardy Chicago. It was pruned heavily and low every winter so that it can be protected in the winter. It produced 160 ripe figs. This year, it should produce more as the trees matures.



        @jake44141 Since you're in zone 5b, and it looks like you have most of your figs in the ground as well, I'm curious. What other figs do you have in the ground? Do you see more dieback or less cold hardiness with them than your CH?

        Comment


        • #8
          Try bending the one year old branches to the ground and trimming back older ones, they will be easy to protect
          Wallingford,Ct. zone 6b

          Comment


          • #9
            TorontoJoe wraps his trees with water pipe heating cable and covers everything with insulation. It works well for him. He describes his technique in his post, electri-fig-ation. Definitely worth a try in cold climates.
            Radium Springs, NM. Supposedly zone 8a, but my severe frost pocket makes it more like 7a.

            Comment


            • #10
              Originally posted by figwort View Post
              Red_Sun What part of this was pruned last year? Is this about right? The green is where you pruned before you wrapped it in the winter?
              You are about right. The scar is where the tip of the old branch was. I kept two new fruiting branches from the top growth.

              The year before, I did not wrap. I mulched it with wood chips. Not very good. A lot of the old wood had rot and it had rodent damage too. And it grew to about 3' tall during the season. Good harvest though.

              So when I wrapped it, I did not prune it. I used carpet pad and tarp. That is more than enough. The most important thing is moisture and rodent control, than cold protection.

              Going forward, I'm going to keep the branches at 4-5' tall since that is how wide the carpet pad is. When it (they) get mature, I'm going to try to leave the old wood unprotected to see what happens. But I have to protect the young branches, or they just won't grow large and no good fig production.

              Attached Files
              Princeton, New Jersey, 6B
              flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/red-sun/albums
              My FigBid: https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=RedSun

              Comment


              • Red_Sun
                Red_Sun commented
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                Very easy to do. Nothing complicated really...

              • Joshawa
                Joshawa commented
                Editing a comment
                how to prevent carpet from getting wet?

              • Red_Sun
                Red_Sun commented
                Editing a comment
                @Joshawa

                I never see any moisture. Maybe the carpet absorb some light moisture and evaporate at the top?

            • #11
              I like big trees. I know I could chop it down to the nub or cordon it along the ground for easier protection but I love when I go into my back yard and see this HC. It feels good so I don't mind doing the extra work to protect it above ground.

              I think it's roughly 3 1/2 meters tall right now. Not bad for a fig tree in the ground in Canada

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              Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

              Comment


              • TorontoJoe
                TorontoJoe commented
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                Thanks moonlight - I hope you get some real rain out in the BC interior soon. I know it's been a tinderbox there.... Scary stuff.

              • Vitooch1
                Vitooch1 commented
                Editing a comment
                Very nice Joe! I like the fact you got a chair close to your favourite tree 😀 is that “silence is golden” chair? I want to see how much you harvest from it at the end of the season.

              • DH
                DH commented
                Editing a comment
                Beautiful tree.. there is nothing like setting under the shade of a large fig tree. A lot of memories from the picnics we did growing up under our fig trees.

            • #12
              The one in my avatar gets trimmed down to about 4 ft high, tied up, wrapped in commercial grade landscape fabric and a wire cage around filled about 18 in deep with leaves or more, depending on what I have.
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              NNJ 6B
              Wishlist: Colar d'Albatera, Mary Magdalene's and the Virgin Mary's Fig, Red Lebanese BV

              Comment


              • Ktrain
                Ktrain commented
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                Very nice!

            • #13
              Ktrain - Exactly - and the reality is bigger tree, more figs. It's a balance between vigour and productive wood. I try to prune back enough to get good growth while still leaving lots of last years wood for new, main-crop producing wood to grow.

              I'm not sure what you mean about the soil?
              Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

              Comment


              • TorontoJoe
                TorontoJoe commented
                Editing a comment
                I do have pretty good soil here. I'm grateful..... That said, you should consider tilling mulch into the ground every chance you get. It'll do wonders. I've known people to transform some brutally hard clay within a few years..... It's bloody hard work though without machinery

              • Ktrain
                Ktrain commented
                Editing a comment
                Yea we have been turning soil conditioner into it for the last few years.
                Slowly but surely....sheesh

              • TorontoJoe
                TorontoJoe commented
                Editing a comment
                True. It takes time. The other option is to bring in excavators... remove all the clay and replace.... Not cheap or easy of course.

            • #14
              Winterized:

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              NNJ 6B
              Wishlist: Colar d'Albatera, Mary Magdalene's and the Virgin Mary's Fig, Red Lebanese BV

              Comment


              • moonlight
                moonlight commented
                Editing a comment
                I winter protect my fig trees same way KDAD.
                Still not that successful after unwrapping them 🤔

              • KDAD
                KDAD commented
                Editing a comment
                moonlight I get full sun for a bit in the morning and then all day from 10 am until dark. The gutter outflow is right to the tree - I do want to move that but it is well watered. It also received a few feedings and is in nice flood plain type soil. I can dig down 5 ft and not have a single stone. Sandy clay loam mix.

            • #15
              What has the highest in-ground success in cold climates: Growing with a single trunk or in the form of a bush? I am with TorontoJoe in that I like BIG fig trees, but bush-form is ok. More branches = more space/insulation?
              Zone 6a/b - west of Boston
              Waiting for climate change to bump me to Zone 8

              Comment


            • #16
              Originally posted by FigTreeJunkie View Post
              What has the highest in-ground success in cold climates: Growing with a single trunk or in the form of a bush? I am with TorontoJoe in that I like BIG fig trees, but bush-form is ok. More branches = more space/insulation?
              There are several factors you'll need to consider:

              1. Tree form is much taller and wider. So it is much harder to wrap at the height. Since the scaffolds are at flatter angles, it is harder to bend the scaffolds. It is much easier to wrap a fig "bush".
              2. Since the "tree" has a thick main trunk, the trunk can withstand cold much better than thinner branches. But if the main trunk receives damage, it is irreversible damage. With the bush form, you can remove and re-train new branches easily.

              As to the "largeness", my neighbor has a fig bush about 8' tall and 8' wide. They do not even protect this fig bush. Sure the fig "tree" can be 10' tall, but the lower 2'-3' is bare. The fig bush can spread even wider with a huge crown.

              So it is just a personal choice. I train all my fig plants in bush form since I'm in the cold climate. But I train all my nut and fruit trees in tree form since they do not need winter protection.
              Princeton, New Jersey, 6B
              flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/red-sun/albums
              My FigBid: https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=RedSun

              Comment


              • #17
                started a similar experiment this year: put a couple of newly rotted CH in ground, pinched the tips, keep them about 1' from ground, plan to train them in Japanese style, protect them in some way in winter, see how that goes~
                Zone 5/6. WL: Black Ischia UCD, Exquisito, Vern's Brown Turkey, Florea, Iranian Candy, Smith, LSU Hollier&Champagne, Cyperus Honey, Lebnese Baskinta Purple, Col de Dema Blanc, Longue D'aoute

                Comment


                • #18
                  Originally posted by Joshawa View Post
                  started a similar experiment this year: put a couple of newly rotted CH in ground, pinched the tips, keep them about 1' from ground, plan to train them in Japanese style, protect them in some way in winter, see how that goes~
                  I have completely ignored my CH some years, intentionally neglecting to winterize it (other than pruning it to within a foot). It's always survived even when we have a good solid week of -20F winter weather. I think this is our 5th or 6th year. I put it in the ground in the fall, after it grew out in a gallon container over the summer.

                  Comment


                  • ginamcd
                    ginamcd commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I have a neighbor that treats his ~4 year old inground HC the same. Last year was the first year it managed to ripen any figs thanks to our warm fall. He was picking his first ones at the end of October, whereas my potted four year old tree started ripening figs at the start of September.

                  • Joshawa
                    Joshawa commented
                    Editing a comment
                    die back to ground every year?

                  • ginamcd
                    ginamcd commented
                    Editing a comment
                    If that question is directed at me, yes, he said it pretty much dies back to the ground.

                • #19
                  Tree or Bush form is completely your choice. If you decide to go tree form, look for older threads on the method used by jrdewhirst. He keeps just trees low and prunes back to the scaffold branches each fall to fit inside a cylinder with a top that is made up of foil bubble wrap with pink fiberglass insulation glued to the inside. His technique harnesses ground heat rather than excluding it such as with other packing/wrapping techniques. And he sees little to no winter damage and very high fruit production.
                  Last edited by ginamcd; 07-27-2021, 08:27 AM.
                  “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
                  – Source Unknown
                  MA 5b/6a

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                  • #20
                    @Casey. the hoop house is covered with plastic from Home Depot from October to May. Inside, I put a lay of straw on the trees just to be safe. In last 3 years, the branches exposed to the air in the hoop house never suffered any damage.

                    This picture was taken last December; I bought way too much hay. Notice some branches are exposed to the air. There's no cold damage. And with new way to prune the trees , all trees can be easily cover with straws.

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                    Here's a Conadria with 200 figs on it now. That's about 25 to 30 pounds of production this year. First 2 years in the pot, figs from this trees were kind of tasteless. Last year in ground, figs were big and sweet, and lot of people liked it.

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                    Cleveland South - Zone 5B.

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                    • TorontoJoe
                      TorontoJoe commented
                      Editing a comment
                      The things we do for figs... Very nice!

                  • #21
                    When do you guys unwrap your trees ?
                    Mine look decent after unwrapping but then 2 weeks later they don't look as good as first days, this is how one of them was wrapped
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                    The top was covered with even wider box, then I spilled about 8 inches thick wall with news paper balls 🤣 from outside, I did fill up the inside with the newspaper ball's too
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                    Then that green thing on top and mulch around Click image for larger version

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                    At spring after un coverings it, I covered it this way until temperatur was around 10°C 50°F
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                    After all that this is what survived
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                    I had to cut the brown and gray and green brunch off 😠
                    I noticed it started to show signs of life around May 12
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                    This is a few days ago
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                    I am sure next season will be better as it will be rooted well I hope !
                    Nough pictures I'd say, ey 🙂
                    Thanks for sharing guys.








                    Attached Files
                    Looking for De La Gloria.Your best teacher is your last mistake !

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                    • #22
                      imagine we use all our creativity, passion, and efforts to make money, we d all be millionaires in no time
                      Zone 5/6. WL: Black Ischia UCD, Exquisito, Vern's Brown Turkey, Florea, Iranian Candy, Smith, LSU Hollier&Champagne, Cyperus Honey, Lebnese Baskinta Purple, Col de Dema Blanc, Longue D'aoute

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