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  • Zone 4 Figgin Recommendations?

    Hello, first post here. I have been looking into early fig varieties or good breba producers after more research this year. I'm not exactly new to growing figs, very aware of the challenges in this zone. I have a chicago hardy and two brown turkey trees since 2019. I took several cuttings from the ch and rooted into a couple more trees, also I rooted some celeste from a seller on figbid during the winter. All of the cutting grown are three plus feet already. All my tree's are in pots and stored in a large covered pit in winter for protection.

    When I was first looking into figs I was looking into hardiness. I really should have looked into early fig variety's or good breba producers. Not sure if the ch is going to ripen in time before frost, they are at the stagnant stage. The few brebas that they had fell off earlier in the season but the cutting grown ch still have them hanging on. We have at least a good month left until frost at this point. Last year I sorta got one very tiny maybe ripe? fig off the ch tree, didn't taste good. I have been thinking about ways to start my season a month earlier in may to wake them up. Currently have a cheap plastic greenhouse I have yet to use.

    So far my plan right now is to acquire a florea fig tree because of its earliness. Any other suggestions for early fig or breba producers relevant in this zone? tips to lengthen season?

  • #2
    My earliest main crops in addition to Florea: Iranian Candy(formerly Raasti), JFE Improved Celeste, Ronde de Bordeaux, De Tres Esplets, Celeste. Pastiliere too but it is a finicky dropper.

    Decent breba producers: Desert King, Violet de Bordeaux types, English Brown Turkey types, Longue d'Aout/Nordland.
    Last edited by don_sanders; 08-04-2021, 07:35 PM.
    Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Verdolino, Black Celeste


    • #3
      Florea is a good idea, I’ve heard it called the most reliable producer for northern fig growers. Dalmatie is a heavy breba producer of excellent quality - I love mine and have been harvesting here since July 17 and will continue to well into November. People say she is cold-hardy; I’ve read that it’s described as a « slow-grower » but that’s not true, mine grew more than a meter and a half in a pot this year. She wakes up pretty late from dormancy, a month later than my other figs


      • #4
        Hello! So far Ronde de Bordeaux has been my best. I don't have Florea yet but everything I have read agrees that it is early (I am trying to graft/root M10 but not yet having success). My mains haven't ripened yet this year so jury is still out but have figlets on a lot of varieties I haven't had before. Improved celeste is another I see recommended for early, which I have now, but am waiting to taste. I have had the wrong approach, I learned, on brebas as I was trying to give everything an early start, but apparently best to hold off so no chance they can get damaged by the cold. The ones I have had were not particularly good, so I might focus on mains unless DK gets going. I have had Chicago hardy ripen, as have people I have given rooted cuttings to in Zone 4 (depending on which map you check), so I think there is hope there.
        Ontario Canada Zone 4b
        Wish List: Florea, De Tres Esplets, Campaniere, Texas Peach; early varieties in general


        • #5
          Welcome to the forum, lots of good suggestions above.

          Happy Growing!
          Kevin, N. Ga 7b Cheers!

          Wishing all of you a bountiful harvest!


          • #6
            Welcome, I made the same mistake when initially researching. In addition to the great suggestions above there are several years worth of ripening order posts by growers in the NE. I'm on my phone and don't have the links handy.

            Where are you at that is zone 4? Since that's your avg min temp some areas might have warmer summers.
            Travis - Zone 5a, Central WI
            Wish list - Verdolino


            • #7
              Saber103 and Ghawdex could you please give your locations? It would make your posts a lot more informative. Thanks.
              D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
              WL: Castillon


              • Ghawdex
                Ghawdex commented
                Editing a comment
                Tucson AZ zone 9

            • #8
              Your most common staples are Florea, Improved Celeste and RDB. Some early new varieties are the ones don_sanders mentions like Iranian Candy and DTE plus alawren8 mentions M10 which is similar to Florea.

              Build yourself a stable of workhorses and then expand from there. I am in a similar zone and I am testing lots of new varieties for my location to see how they do. Build from the experience of others and you will save yourself a lot of headaches.

              My tip to lengthen the season is not to extend the session but to invest the effort at the beginning of the season to start early. Your figs will taste so much better the closer you can ripen them to summer then trying to ripen them in late October.
              Tony, Toronto Canada USDA 4B now 5B apparently!!
              Yellow Neches, St Martain, Texas Peach.


              • #9
                Thanks for the suggestions, I will look into some of the varieties mentioned here. I'm in northern wisconsin in price county, 4a to be exact is the zone. This year was unusually warm felt like we were a zone higher.


                • #10
                  Saber103 I think a big challenge is going to be the volatile weather in the spring and fall. Just based on watching the weather I know it's more extreme for you. Just be prepared to move them in and out (fig shuffle)
                  Travis - Zone 5a, Central WI
                  Wish list - Verdolino


                  • #11
                    Should I be concerned about fmv when buying any of these varieties for my zone? Just wondering if it would effect vigor of the tree and fruiting especially in my shorter season. I need all the time I can get in my zone. Already found a source for florea but they are known to sell fmv infected trees from what I saw in another post on here.


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by Saber103 View Post
                      Should I be concerned about fmv when buying any of these varieties for my zone? Just wondering if it would effect vigor of the tree and fruiting especially in my shorter season. I need all the time I can get in my zone. Already found a source for florea but they are known to sell fmv infected trees from what I saw in another post on here.
                      As a new enthusiast, your main concerns should be buying a tree that is true to type and buying from a reputable seller. FMV is a part of the fig culture and if you're in the hobby long enough, you'll just have to deal with it. Most trees grow out of FMV with proper care and fertilization.

                      Great recommendations in this thread. RdB was the first to ripen for me (a couple of days ago). It starts pumping out figs early and often. Mt. Etna's are the way to go in a short season. Hardy Chicago, Red Lebanese Bekaa Valley, Kessariani and Black Greek to name a few that work in my zone (6b).

                      Also, some varieties may fruit the first year but patience is a must with figs. If I get fruit in my first year, that's great. But my goal in year 1 is growth. That's why it's important to deal with a reputable seller. You'll never know you purchased an incorrect variety for a couple of years and then you need to start over trying to find that same variety. I can't stress that enough. Buy on FigBid from known forum contributors and reputable sellers who have fruited what they are selling. You'll save your self a ton of aggravation in the end.
                      Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania / Zone 6b


                      • #13
                        Great advice so far - 600M, JH Adriatic LSU Purple, Bryant Dark were early this year for me (I am Z8 though, Z4 is pretty extreme). I like what Tony said about starting early - get that greenhouse up and you'll need a heater in for the winter I think.

                        I would add don't spend a lot to start, you can establish rootstock from a common variety and then graft onto it and you will make your cutting-dollars go a lot farther and learn a lot about rooting/grafting/etc. PATIENCE is definitely the number one requirement. I started seriously in 2017 and I'm just getting my first figs from the cuttings I got a couple of years back. You can trade/buy cuttings from forum members, watch for Harvey's sale in the spring - checkout his website (figaholics) and Ultimate Fig Database and the one here on ourfigs.

                        Think about your long-term goals - inground? or containers, how many, etc. My tendency is to just acquire as many as possible, but that's really not the best strategy. I think you're already on the right track, Z4 is a pretty harsh filter. I would rank taste as my second goal right now, JH Adriatic was very strawberry jam and nice seed crunch so that is what I am going for now.

                        Regarding FMV, I also had the idea of trying to avoid it completely but that doesn't seem possible. Yes, it can reduce the vigor and possibly the productivity. If you can avoid it I would but it affects some plants more than others, many just seem to show only slight signs and to outgrow it - those that don't I would cull. Without a simple, definitive test it's not practical/possible to completely exclude it.
                        Last edited by Noah Mercy; 08-05-2021, 10:45 AM.
                        South Arkansas - Zone 8a


                        • #14

                          TLDR: I ripened my fruit in Zone 3 by bringing my trees into my garage, delaying the hard frost

                          I'm currently zone 3 (with a short but hot and dry summer). I have only grown here last season and the current season. I got a late start both years (end of May-ish) and last year the nightly temps fell off a cliff begining Sept. So the season is like 100-120 days.

                          I don't have a lot of varieties suited to the climate yet (I was previously growing in a warmer zone) but I managed to ripen Chicago Hardy main and Desert King brebas, the former by leaving it in my garage when temps got cold.

                          After temps got very cool here there were still lots of unripe fruit in my trees so I did the daily shuffle for a while but eventually gave up as day time temps got too cold. After that but before they experienced a hard frost I brought my trees into my unheated but attached garage and managed to ripen a lot of remaining fruit in relatively cool temps (50°F ish) and low light conditions.

                          Eventually the garage got cold and the leaves dropped but I ended up extending my season into Nov this way. The fruit was surprisingly decent quality. Not as good as full summer but good enough to enjoy.
                          Last edited by FigsNorth; 08-05-2021, 08:37 PM.
                          Zone 3


                          • #15
                            As for an early start from my experience is to have a good temporary greenhouse but have the temps very low in temperatures. I noticed having the tent temps at 25 degrees from April to no more frost(June) grew my trees quite nicely but became an issue later on. although I opened the tent daily to give it natural acclamation it still set my trees back a couple of weeks once I fully grew them outside. I’m planning to wake them slowly at around 10-15 degrees until frost ends, this way my tree arent growing like weeds and don’t get hit from on and off weather Second opinion is to shuffle or have a temp tent in the fall to ripen the rest of fruit.
                            Zone 5 Barrie, on


                            • #16
                              Good advice above, especially from tinyfish.

                              My two cents:

                              1. Don't bother growing brebas. The quality is not worth the work.

                              2. Don't listen to advice from anyone Zone 7 or warmer. Their advice will be useless and they won't know it.

                              3. What matters is not your low temperatures in winter but rather the length of your growing season. As a rough benchmark, you'll need 95+ days with a high temperature above 65 F to ripen ANY figs and 120+ days to ripen a worthwhile crop.

                              4. If you build a greenhouse or hoop house, some of the warm days can be in there.

                              5. MOST IMPORTANT: Start out focusing only on the earliest ripening varieties. That would be Florea, Ronde de Bordeaux, Improved Celeste, Iranian Candy, De Tres Espets, and maybe Teramo Unk. If those work and you want to get bold, then (and only then) try one or more of the earlier Mt Etnas, such as Natalina, Salem Dark, Malta Black, Red Lebanese Bekka Valley. Don't try anything else unless these work.
                              Joe, Z6B, RI.


                              • Joshawa
                                Joshawa commented
                                Editing a comment
                                good serious advice.

                            • #17
                              It will not be easy without greenhouse! However if you still want to grow figs then Improved Celeste is good to start!


                              • #18
                                jrdewhirst I'm not so sure that growing brebas here is a bad idea even if the quality is inferior to main. Might set aside certain trees just for the breba. Ripening main crop is a bigger challenge in my short season. As for your 2nd point I kinda figured zone 7 an up advice wouldn't really help me too much. The big difference in season length and heat is a different experience. My season length can vary year to year but its roughly 110-120 days. I've gotten alot of early ripening fig varieties to consider thanks to everyone here.

                                FigsNorth I have a garage to shuffle them into if I end up not getting enough time to ripen before frosts. It's really looking like I might have to do that into september when the frosts come. My brown turkey main crop seems like it takes longer to grow than my chicago hardy. I was actually looking into desert king for purely breba as long as I can ripen them here.

                                Fig-Doctor I have a celeste tree that I rooted over winter from a cutting. It is currently about 3 feet tall and very vigorous, even has two figs forming on it already. Is it worth getting Improved Celeste over the normal celeste?

                                So far my list for fig cuttings or trees to get are florea, iranian candy, desert king, and Rdb.


                                • Fig-Doctor
                                  Fig-Doctor commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  I heard several times that Celeste drop figs while Improved Celeste don’t drop. Also Improved Celeste has a excellent breba. I don’t know when Celeste ripe fruits but I normally start collect fruits April here(10a). It is the earliest fig I have and even earlier than Florea. Good luck!

                                • FigsNorth
                                  FigsNorth commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  Yes, the ole fig shuffle works well - bring them inside the garage at night and bring them outside during the warm sunny spring and fall days. Depends how many figs you have and how far you have to shuffle them whether this is worth it for you. For me, at least in the fall, it wasn't worth it after a certain point (I had to haul them 50 yards and then secure them so they wouldn't topple, etc) and that's how I found out that many figs could still ripen even in the dim but warm garage. This year I'll probably bring them in before first be hard frost and leave them in the garage to slowly for dormant.

                                • jrdewhirst
                                  jrdewhirst commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  Fig-Doctor — you’re proving my point about advice from people in warmer zones. You don’t have to cover or store your trees, so you don’t have to prune them hard to fit. Hence you can leave lots of wood from the prior year. We can’t.