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  • When & When Not to Pinch!

    Sooo.. this has been my experiences with pinching this year. Enjoy!

    Zone 7A - Philadelphia
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  • #2
    Hey Ross! Great video! I've definitely pinched my fair share of fig trees earlier this summer and I can definitely see the potential benefits of pinching when living in short season growing zones (7 and below) like we do.. I think though that I possibly overdid it on a few of my trees and basically created some poorly shaped trees because of it (too many branches/leaves etc). So I think when done properly (i.e waiting for 6 or 7 leaves to form at least on each branch before pinching, and then ensuring you only pinch before mid July hits at the latest), it's a great option to use for us short season growers. Of course reducing nitrogen and increasing phosphorus at around that same time (like you also mentioned)will also give you an even better shot at getting those figlets to form & grow with enough time to ripen before the stinking cold sets back in! Lol

    Here is some food for thought.. What if your aim were to create a larger number of brebas for the next season? I wonder if pinching in say late September through early Oct would stimulate a tree to form those embryonic figs right before storage? I know anything larger than a pea should be removed before winter storage, but Im talking very beginnings of the fig forming as the one tree in your video that you could already see 2 distinct growths at the node (fig & leaf). I think I will experiment with this on couple varieties known for producing quality brebas.. What do ya think?
    My Plant Inventory: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...HZcBjcsxMwQ7iY

    Cuttings Available 2022:


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Pinching actually works against you in a short growing season for shaping the tree because it produces more growing tips which results in spindly growth, but for fig production the vegetative buds have to be removed (rubbed out by snapping off at the branch union).

      With a longer growing season the spindly growth would develop and ripen figs, but the trees go dormant before any sizable caliper increase or fig production in cooler zones.
      Last edited by AscPete; 09-09-2016, 11:19 PM. Reason: added rubbing out...

    • Jamie0507
      Jamie0507 commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes Pete I definitely saw that my pinching did mess up the shape on a couple of my trees. It's a good thing that I have so many lol! Maybe I'll post a few pics to be a poster child for "pinching gone wild" or something lol!

    • ross
      ross commented
      Editing a comment

      I'm not sure that breba trick would work, haha. Interesting thought, but I really am not sure. I'm still a bit lost on how brebas actually form.

  • #3
    Nice video, thanks for sharing.

    Although I advocate against pinching to shape young fig trees especially in colder zones with shorter growing seasons but it helps induce fig bud break on actual fruiting branches. Pinching is used by growers in warmer zones to create bushier plants and more vegetative growth, but cuttings and young plants in those warmer zones would produce sooner (on fewer branches) and benefit from early pruning instead of pinching.

    Staking and training as a single stem plant then pruning or air layering off the top few feet always results in larger caliper mains and scaffold with earlier and more productive fig trees. Attached are typical " before" and "after" photo / examples, on the 2nd or 3 leaf trees the future scaffolds are this current season's fruiting branches. In a warmer zone this could take only one growing season depending on the cultivar.
    When I first started cultivating figs I found very few detailed instructions for pruning and training potted fig trees other than the standard recommendation to

    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 3 photos.
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b


    • Stekewood
      Stekewood commented
      Editing a comment
      Very nice! So would the normal progression be?
      1st season- allow the rooted cutting to get established and put on good root growth in a proper container.
      2nd season -train to a single main trunk.
      3rd season- remove top to form the main scaffolds.
      Last edited by Stekewood; 09-19-2016, 08:32 AM.

    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      It depends on the length of your growing season, in warmer zones mains and scaffolds can be grown out in 1 season.
      In colder zones,
      1st season train as single stem (from cutting)
      2nd season cut main stem to form the future scaffolds (they will be the current seasons fruiting branches as pictured).