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  • Question about early starts.

    As the title says, for those that give their trees a head start, my question is this. Do you find the extra time at the beginning of the season using whatever method equates 1:1 in moving up your ripening window?



  • #2
    This was my first year giving trees more of a jump start than a head start -- I moved some into an unheated cattle panel greenhouse in early April, the same time I moved my other trees outside.

    The GH trees budded out 2-3 weeks ahead of the others and all formed figs at the same time as my early and Mt Etna varieties. Most are varieties that typically set a main crop too late to ripen or ripen well.

    I'm not ready to move to heating the greenhouse, but if I can give my late-ish varieties a two week jump start without supplemental heat I'll continue doing so in future years.
    “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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    • #3
      I don't think it will normally be 1:1. That depends on temperatures and resulting growing degree days. On average maybe more like two to one, a two month earlier start might result in one month earlier ripening. It does make a huge difference. In 2020 my main crop started mid May, this yr more like late June. I had a much earlier start in 2020 and heated more at night.
      Alpine, Texas 4500ft elevation Zone 7
      http://growingfruit.org/

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      • MyDogMike
        MyDogMike commented
        Editing a comment
        That’s kinda what I’m seeing. I moved mine out to a heated greenhouse April 1st and haven’t gotten a ripe fig yet. Last year was a bust for me, but I know my Smith started Sept 7th with no head start. I know I’m being impatient, but I expect Campaniere to start to swell any day now. I hope at least…

      • ginamcd
        ginamcd commented
        Editing a comment
        For figs, from fruit set to ripe is anywhere from 11-19 weeks depending on the variety. If you noted the date figlets first appeared, you should be able to calculate an approximate ripening date.

      • MyDogMike
        MyDogMike commented
        Editing a comment
        I think that’s where I went wrong.

    • #4
      There is nothing one can do that will wake up a fig, push leaf out and budding more than heat and by heat, I mean a greenhouse. Depending on your location, it can buy you 4-6 weeks (my experience).

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      • #5
        I purchased a Bourjasotte Grise from Lance last week. My plan is to start it in February in my indoor grow room under lights with bottom heat - root temps almost never go below around 70, air temps on a sunny day can get into the 80s.

        I’m hoping that will be enough of a head start - I’ve always wanted to grow one of the grey figs!

        Eric - Seattle / Sunset Zone 5 - W/L: Granato - Now offering fig-pops, my rooting mix, and gritty potting mix! https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Brows...er=pacnorwreck

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        • #6
          April 1st might not have really been much of a head start depending on what part of PA.

          Mine started waking up naturally on their own around April 1st this year.

          Breba started ripening end of June and Main crop started July 26.
          Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Verdolino, Black Celeste

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          • MyDogMike
            MyDogMike commented
            Editing a comment
            6b (maybe 6a?) central area of the state. Weather is pretty unpredictable year to year.

        • #7
          MyDogMike - I don't know if it's actually 1:1. I think it's a matter of how much light and heat you can get on them... But everything helps... It really does!

          I can say.... If you're going to stretch your season in a cool climate, do it in the spring, not at the end of the season.... Why? You ask..... Because the days are longer and you'll get more bang for your buck with more daylight. Don't get me wrong... when fall comes I always have a few gems that I want to try and ripen but the reality is that a day at the top of the season is worth much more then a day at the tail end. October is dark!

          Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

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          • #8
            The light and heat are about as good as I can get it at the beginning of the season (I started April 1st). My little greenhouse gets the best light when there’s no leaves on the Oak tree that sorta shades it out mid-day. I’m sure it helped…I fully expected to have some main crop by now and it just hasn’t happened yet. It’s been a warmer than usual summer for me too.

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            • #9
              I can't actually say I've noted a measurable difference but I've only tried head starts 2 years now and its only been shuffling in and out of an attached garage.
              Tony; Pickens county, SC zone 7b

              Care for the Earth...there's no place like home

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              • MyDogMike
                MyDogMike commented
                Editing a comment
                Has it made any difference at all that you can tell?

              • Otis
                Otis commented
                Editing a comment
                Not that I can tell, Mike, but I'll probably continue to shuffle at least some of the later ripeness, just in case. I believe it depends a lot on the kind of spring we get.

              • MyDogMike
                MyDogMike commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks for the info, that surprises me but makes sense with what I’m experiencing this season.

            • #10
              I estimate that my figs got about 2-3 weeks of a head start due to my use of a greenhouse in the spring. The actual amount of time I used the greenhouse was about twice that amount of time, so I agree with fruitnut 's estimate of approximately a 2:1 ratio of greenhouse time to ripening headstart time. Despite being only 2-3 weeks, that makes a huge difference when my fruiting season is normally only about 8-9 weeks long (Aug-Sep).

              I also concur with TorontoJoe 's comments that the greenhouse usage should be put in the front end of the season. Using the greenhouse at the end of the season just isn't an option for me for a few reasons. First, the trees are too large at the end of the season to fit in my greenhouse. Second, the temperature swings in the greenhouse are fine for vegetative growth but I don't think it would work for fruit production. Finally, its easy for bugs and other nasty stuff to get out of control in a greenhouse. If I was ripening fruit in there I can see that being even more of a problem. My greenhouse is not large and all these issues would probably be more manageable in a larger greenhouse.
              FigLife: www.figlife.com
              www.youtube.com/figlifedotcom
              [email protected]

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              • fruitnut
                fruitnut commented
                Editing a comment
                My harvest season in the greenhouse is 5-7 months. Outside a month or two at best none with some varieties. And far fewer pest, weather, and critter issues inside. To do that one needs a greenhouse with top notch heating and cooling. That makes all the difference.
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