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  • Preventing figs from splitting

    For those growing figs in rainy areas, are there any EFFECTIVE measures to take in reducing splitting?

    I have heard people growing figs in containers discuss using covers on the pots to reduce water uptake and splitting - some have stated it does not help much. Anyone with experience?

    Is there any reduction on splitting with an increase in age of the tree?

    And do inground trees handle splitting better than container trees?
    SW PA zone 6a

  • #2
    There are thirty year old in-ground fig trees here that split regularly in the rains.


    • #3
      Grow them in a greenhouse.


      • eboone
        eboone commented
        Editing a comment
        Where is Hershell when you need him? OK, now I need a greenhouse.

      • CliffH
        CliffH commented
        Editing a comment
        Only if you have better humidity control than I have in our little greenhouse. It is always more humid in there than outside.

    • #4
      I live in a desert where we get about 15 inches of rain per year, with about 6-8 of it falling July and September. If we get more than a couple inches of rain per week during this time, some fig varieties will split.

      In my experience, the lingering humidity after rains seems just as damaging to proper fig ripening, so I wouldn't be surprised if covering pots during rains makes no difference. For me, the best defense against this humidity is keeping trees pruned so that the airflow is as unimpeded as possible.

      Also, I agree that tree age and whether they are grown in-ground or in-pot makes no difference for splitting.

      What about planting on raised mounds to reduce soil moisture? I wonder if that combined with great airflow would help?


      • #5
        Just an increase in humidity and clouds increases the splitting in my greenhouse. That's with no rain or increase in soil water. So to a large extent my opinion is that there's a limited amount that can be done. And it's not just about splitting. The figs swell up bigger, taste more watered down, and mold outside and in.

        The very best figs are going to be on mature trees with a big root system but with limited soil water so that the tree is under a water deficit. Combine that with constant sun, low humidity, and no rain. Supply water via deficit irrigation. In my greenhouse 3 inches per month in summer. I know this isn't possible for most folks but just my opinion for the few that could try. In areas with long, hot, sunny, dry summers like southern CA this could and is being done.
        Last edited by fruitnut; 10-09-2016, 10:44 PM.
        Alpine, Texas 4500ft elevation Zone 7


        • Rafaelissimmo
          Rafaelissimmo commented
          Editing a comment
          My experience agrees with everything you have said here!

      • #6
        Outside my SalsC is almost a complete bust, 99% of the figs split. In the greenhouse it is an an incredibly good fig and maybe 10% split. It makes a huge difference.


        • #7
          I have an inground RdB that split terribly for me this year. Not a single fig ripened without splitting badly. I think I will be potting it up into a 20g SIP to at least try to control soil moisture (and hope for less humid conditions).
          London, ON, Canada zone 6a


          • #8
            Good topic. I agree there are no ideal solutions for those of us cursed by inhospitable climates. I think probably Wills' greenhouse idea could work for a large, professional greenhouse but a small one like mine splits just the same. My best solution is to have varieties that ripen by mid september, when things really start going downhill weatherwise. Probably good to try reducing watering as well once temps lower into the 70s for highs. Headstarts in my greenhouse will help to ripen earlier. There will be hurricanes here on the coast that may ruin lots of the crop but we've been lucky here since Sandy.
            Zone 10b, Miami, FL


            • #9
              I agree with both Wills and Rafael. Sometimes a greenhouse will help and other times it won't. If the weather turns cold and cloudy a greenhouse might not help at all. In fact it can increase humidity.

              With warmer temperatures and sun, as is often the case in FL, just keeping the rain off the plants can make a huge difference.
              Last edited by fruitnut; 10-10-2016, 11:46 AM.
              Alpine, Texas 4500ft elevation Zone 7


              • #10
                I think that splitting involves too many variables to really be able to control well. Probably if you invest lots of effort, you can have at least some impact. Obviously the amount of water in the soil for root uptake is one of the variables, especially near the end. But others pointed out humidity matters too. Obviously the genetics of the particular variety matter (the only control on that is to choose varieties that don't split easily :-)... but then you might never have an RDB!). I think that temperature matters too, but not just during that obvious time of the swelling / bulging / softening final week or two of ripening. Because I think that the outer layers of the fig matter too, in terms of pliability. Those outer layers need to be able to stretch, and the material making up those outer layers is affected by all of the stuff that goes on during that seemingly "dormant" period for the synconium, while it appears to be just sitting there without changing much. I don't believe it -- I think it's going through a lot of changes then. But consider -- how pliable / stretchy (or even separable) those parts of the fig are has probably been affected by the continuum of all of those environmental factors for 80 days or so. Any particularly dry or wet spells that affected its makeup during that time? What was the heat picture like? Any really hot dry times? My point is just that splitting isn't only about what happens during those last couple of weeks... it's about the whole season. So you may be able to control some of those things that obviously matter, but it's hard to control all of them.

                I try to avoid the obvious bits about avoiding overwatering during the final stages, (and yeah I sometimes make feeble attempts at covering my favorites if there's heavy rain coming during that timeframe), but mostly I end up leaving it to chance. But I eat lots of the split ones anyway -- not all of them (if it's just a split but otherwise ripens and doesn't have insects on it, or other pests visible). (Sometimes I cut away the exposed part and eat the rest).

                If you find an effective strategy for this, I'd love to hear it!

                Mike -- central NY state, zone 5a -- pauca sed matura


                • MichaelTucson
                  MichaelTucson commented
                  Editing a comment
                  P.S. I'd bet that culture / nutrition poses another set of variables. I don't have any specific ideas about what or how (other than general soil culture and nutrition for general plant health and fruit production, which are described in other places) -- I don't have any idea if specific nutrients (or their lack) can increase splitting, or decrease it. But I'd bet that nutrition does affect likelihood of splitting figs.

              • #11
                This discussion may provide some food for thought on the subject of splitting,

                fignut , reports her observations regarding Silicon (Si) supplement application and its reduction of splitting.
                Last edited by AscPete; 05-03-2017, 10:22 PM. Reason: correction "his" to "her"
                Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b


                • #12
                  I tried putting protective plastic upon my plants and pots but the humidity was so high they split anyway. I'm pretty sure a forced air heater would have prevented that, though. Maybe I'll try that this year if I can find one small enough in August or Sept.
                  Bob C.
                  Kansas City, MO Z6


                  • #13
                    Originally posted by AscPete View Post
                    fignut reports his observations regarding Silicon.
                    her observations

                    Joe, Z6B, RI.


                    • jrdewhirst
                      jrdewhirst commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Well understood. In any case, I meant to clarify, not criticize. There was nothing in the posts that would betray gender. I just happen to know fignut personally, as she is the source of the vast majority of my mature trees. Whatever anyone else's preferred pronoun, I'm pretty sure that she would prefer "she / her".

                    • AscPete
                      AscPete commented
                      Editing a comment
                      BTW, I would have preferred a "given" name i.e. "Signature"...

                    • jrdewhirst
                      jrdewhirst commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Yeah, of course.

                      But names often aren't enough. When my oldest son went to college, he called to tell us about his new friends -- Andy and Marty and Jamie and others. Hanging up the phone, envisioning a bunch of guys, my wife and I thought, "Isn't that nice, he's already got a bunch of buddies." Then we visited the school to watch one off his soccer games; we met all of these friends; and they turned out to be all women! He ended up marrying Andy.