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  • Florida Fig growers, what are your most dependable varieties??

    Hey all! I'm just getting started with some plants coming in the mail soon, really want to hear y'all's opinions on the most dependable and delicious varieties in the deep south! I imagine anything that ripens in the spring or fall will do much better than those that ripen mid summer here, not exactly sure what our seasons are like though in terms of when things break "dormancy" (here in soflo they probably never go fully dormant). Anyways, have at it y'all! Thanks!

    So far my collection will include :
    Green ischia
    VDB
    LSU O'Rourke
    LSu Scotts black
    LSU tiger
    And I've been searching for an affordable smith fig aswell, as I've heard wonderful things.
    Last edited by [email protected]; 07-28-2021, 06:46 AM.

  • #2
    More information would help us to help you...like, where in Florida are you at (south FL is a much different animal than NE Florida or the panhandle for example)? Are you planning on growing in-ground or in pots?

    I have been growing in Champa Bay for quite a few years now and have learned a lot about growing figs in our challenging conditions. Biggest headwinds IMO are the root knot nematodes if you are growing in-ground and the rainy season/humidity. Nematodes can make what is an otherwise vigorous/productive plant for others and turn it into a stagnant and sickly plant.

    If you are growing in-ground, there are some varieties I have found to be pretty nematode resistant vs. others - like LSU Red, LSU Purple and Smith. And if you want some general strategies to manage the nematodes, I recommend reading a post I created a little while back called "the nematode bible". You can avoid the nematode issues by growing in pots and keeping the pots off the ground, but growing pots in Florida presents its own challenges because the intense sun/heat can really heat the pots up too much and potted plants are going to have more issues with splitting in the rain that plants in-ground. If growing in pots, plan on getting some very large and light colored pots.

    Other than that, varieties that ripen either really early or really late (before or after our rainy season) are a good idea. And varieties with a tight eye or are very split resistant are really important. The 3 I mentioned that are pretty nematode resistant are also split resistant, which is a great combo.

    Looking at your list, you have a pretty decent starting inventory...the only issue I think you are going to have is with VDB. VDB is a really tasty and productive variety, but in my experience, VDB really tends to sulk a lot in the heat of the day - way more so than other varieties. So that one will be really challenging to grow in a pot, and in the ground, it is very susceptible to nematodes (so is LSU Tiger).

    Comment


    • aaaadkins14@gmail.com
      [email protected] commented
      Editing a comment
      I'm in Southwest Florida, Naples specifically (atleast we get a little less rain than the east coast!)

      I'm in an interesting situation actually where it's not straight Sugar sand but a slightly higher organic matter content dark grey sand with some limestone/shell and rocks underneath, I have a lot of compost available to me so I was thinking about doing the pit method (maybe mounding a bit to keep out wet feet) mixing my native soil 50/50 with compost and mulching heavily with about 6-8 inches of good quality mulch that will break down into good organic matter. I think all of this will help with the nematodes from planting in ground...

      I plan to grow them in pots and plant all the ones I like in the ground. I have a good amount of space and because I think I can deal with the nematodes (maybe optimistic) I think in ground will be best! Really excited to get a Smith too... I have a lot of experience growing many different types of rare bananas which can also be quite susceptible to nematode attack so I feel like I have a pretty good handle on working with them, we shall see!! Also experimenting a bit growing out some ficus palmata cuttings for potential nematode resistant rootstocks...

      Do you have any other reccomendation for varieties that are very early or late with a nice small eye? I was already second guessing VDB so thanks for that info, but I want one of those high quality dark figs that everyone talks so much about. Maybe something like black Madeira or Figo preto would be better? Thanks so much for the info, really appreciate it!! I always thought figs that ripen at the right time would do well here because certain times of the year it feels like a desert here, this spring we had no rain for 3 months basically and it was HOT. Made me think the figs would be loving it right now! Haha

    • m5allen
      m5allen commented
      Editing a comment
      Andrew, sounds like you have a little experience with the nematodes and how to try and combat them, so that will help. I too was surprised that bananas can be vulnerable to RKN; but I think figs are much more susceptible. If you have a planting location already scoped out, I would spend the rest of this summer solarizing that spot, tilling and then solarizing some more. Then, I think digging out a little of the native soil, mixing some with compost and then also building a raised planter bed type approach and filling the planter bed with compost and pine bark would really help. They will still get some nematode galls, but the should still manage to grow and produce well.

      I am trying the nematode resistant root stock approach as well. I think the jury is still out on Palmata being a good RKN resistant and F.Carica compatible root stock, so I am interested to hear about your progress here. I am trying to work with F. Sycomorous, F. Racemosa and F. Opposita (this was a recommendation from Craig, the Florida Fruit Geek). I can share some cuttings of these rootstocks if you want - the more FL growers trialing them out, the better.

      My favorite tasting variety is CDDG. It is a late variety and still tastes great even if it ripens around Nov/Dec. Unfortunately, I don't think the Black Madeira types are worth growing here, they are too split prone so the flavor gets washed out and they can't ripen to their potential. But like fisherman said, I think I258 has a very similar taste to the Black Madeira types and it is a little less split prone. LSU Red and purple are both very early and because they just continually produce figs, they are very late as well.

      Some other FL growers that know their stuff are Johnson1, Rigo, fisherman and of course the forum founder - Wills.

  • #3
    I am in St Augustine, I too am new to the fig growing lifestyle. I tried cuttings in January, but they drowned, never rooted. My son bought me a Chicago Handy for Father's Day. Since then I bought an I 258, Figo Preto and a Fico Palozzo. A friend is sending me an airlayer Celeste. Right now all in pots 14 inch and above, eventually in ground for the most hardy of the Figs.
    Guy A
    St Augustine Fl.
    Zone 9A.

    Comment


    • #4
      Growing figs in south FL is a challenge. No question about it. If you are growing in pots, you need to be super careful not to inadvertently contaminate the fig plant with nematodes. This can happen from contaminated fig plants grown in FL, compost locally derived, old pots, garden tools and so on. Once nematode contaminated, a potted fig plant will eventually poop out.
      As to varieties that are highly rated for taste and hold up reasonably well to splitting in FL ( none are totally split proof from my experience), my three favorites are Smith, White Madeira #1 and Harry’s Crete. Another great fig that is less split resistant than these but still worth growing is I-258.
      I am space constrained so I gave up on Black Madeira and Madeira Island because they split like crazy for me.
      Of the LSU figs, LSU Improved Celeste does great here but it’s taste doesn’t compare to the varieties named above.
      I normally prune my trees around Xmas time, so if you PM me then, I’ll be glad to share some cuttings with you.

      Comment


      • aaaadkins14@gmail.com
        [email protected] commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks so much for the info!! I'd love to get some cuttings of your WM1 and Harry's Crete fig! Pencil me in! Haha 🙏 they look incredible from a brief search. Thank you! A quick question, when do most of your figs tend to ripen?

      • GuyA
        GuyA commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you Fisherman, for the info. I was planning to prune near Thanksgiving. I am planning to stop fertilizer around Halloween. Thanks for the cuttings offer.

    • #5
      Originally posted by fisherman View Post
      Growing figs in south FL is a challenge. No question about it. If you are growing in pots, you need to be super careful not to inadvertently contaminate the fig plant with nematodes. This can happen from contaminated fig plants grown in FL, compost locally derived, old pots, garden tools and so on. Once nematode contaminated, a potted fig plant will eventually poop out.
      As to varieties that are highly rated for taste and hold up reasonably well to splitting in FL ( none are totally split proof from my experience), my three favorites are Smith, White Madeira #1 and Harry’s Crete. Another great fig that is less split resistant than these but still worth growing is I-258.
      I am space constrained so I gave up on Black Madeira and Madeira Island because they split like crazy for me.
      Of the LSU figs, LSU Improved Celeste does great here but it’s taste doesn’t compare to the varieties named above.
      I normally prune my trees around Xmas time, so if you PM me then, I’ll be glad to share some cuttings with you.
      fisherman if you have figs in containers, do you find it helpful to keep them off the ground with a pallet or some other riser to prevent nematode infection? If so, how high do you keep them off the ground? I was told by one person 18 inches, but that would make growing difficult. Thanks for your time.
      Brooks -- Zone 9b Tampa area
      Looking for figs that do well in a hot, wet climate.

      Comment


      • #6
        @sbrookswest: my pots are all on my lanai pavers. The pavers are 2” thick concrete and are tightly fitted together. The lanai itself is 18” above prevailing ground level. I would be skeptical of just using pallets sitting on the ground. There are spaces between the slats where rain splashes can get to your pots. I would think you need to add some type of impermeable ground barrier under the pallets.

        Comment


        • #7
          Returning to the original discussion of the best varieties for FL, my thinking has changed a bit based on another year’s experience and the generous commentary by other growers here and on YouTube.
          I have recently set up a small fig collection for someone in south FL and here were my choices ( in ranked order) : White Madeira, Smith, LSU Tiger, Bourjassotte Grise, Negra d Adge. This provides a variety of excellent taste, a longer season of fruiting, and reasonable rain tolerance. If I were to add another variety, it would be I 258. Hope this is helpful.

          Comment


          • sbrookswest
            sbrookswest commented
            Editing a comment
            TNJed MillenialGardner did a good youtube video where he said that out of 50 or so varieties he grows, Negra d'Agde ranked #2 for doing well in the rain (Celeste ranked #1). He's on the coastal Carolinas.

          • slowpoke
            slowpoke commented
            Editing a comment
            TNJed, no personal experience, but I seem to remember a couple of FL people mentioning LSU Red not doing too well, maybe LSU Tiger might be better. I will be trying Luv and Rockaway Green which are supposed to have some split resistance.

          • rbernys
            rbernys commented
            Editing a comment
            TNJed Negra d'Agde did very well for me here in Orlando. No splits, but the flavor was just ok. I am hoping it was because it was so young (first year). I guess we will see this season since it is now inground.

        • #8
          Thanks sbrookswest I haven’t watched his recent stuff. That’s great to hear
          CJ in Memphis 7b/8a….tight eyes, nonsplitters...Pons figs, French figs, Mario figs & tasty Cali seedlings!

          Comment


        • #9
          Good thread, I'm hoping Luv and Rockaway Green do well too. Also looking to maybe get one or more of these:
          Negra d'Agde
          Nerucciolo d'Elba
          Hative d'Argenteuil
          Rosselino
          De La Roca
          -Dorian Miami, FL, Zone 10b
          Wanted (Col de Dame Grise/Blanc, Popone, Black Tuscan, Martinenca Rimada)

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