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  • Prolific Four Fig Groups

    Where is the fruit coming from this year?

    Based on past harvests here, and looking around at cultivars this year bearing the most figlets per tree, and considering which cultivars seem most likely to ripen well due to being "early" or robust in a short growing season, the most prolific cultivars here seem to sort out into a few categories:
    1. Ronde de Bordeaux (a category unto itself)
    2. Mt Etna types (Marseilles Black, Gino's Black ... )
    3. LSU types (Improved Celeste, O'Rourke, Champagne, LSU Purple, LSU Black / Scott's Black ... )
    4. Late Bordeaux types (Violette de Bordeaux, Petite Negri, Negronne, Vista, Nero 600m / Valle Negra ... )
    Given the figlets per tree now, and given which cultivars have ripened in the past, to try to maximize sheer bulk of great tasting fig fruit, if I were to start over, I would prioritize and grow at least 2 or 3 trees from each of the above 4 categories ahead of most any other fig tree. (And then! venture to excess trying to find other cultivars of great productivity and tremendous flavor.)

    Though select other cultivars may do as well as early, these four categories help simplify the matter, reliably, and maybe, at risk of getting too personalized, in a way that matches my taste preferences. Seems a good way to springboard into high fruit production. Even with these cultivars it can take a good 2 or 3 years to really get the fruit rolling in, so a special focus on flavorful, prolific cultivars early on can be important.

    Other cultivars that I've found to be productive in early years, and/or that others speak highly of, include: Celeste, Italian Honey / Lattarulla, Conadria, Florea, Zingarella, Malta Black, and so on. Some of these aren't as reliably tasty to me as the group of four above, but tastes vary.

    While there are many more cultivars that can be prolific early and with which others have had good experiences, figuring those out seems not as foolproof as referring to a few distinct groups such as the four above. The Mt Etna cultivar, or, say, clan, goes by dozens of names, many highly regarded. Similarly, the Late Bordeaux group: multiple well regarded names, though their late ripening production in years without brebas may be an issue (which is why I list them last of the 4 groups). Then there is Ronde de Bordeaux, highly held, has been called "the perfect fig" and one doesn't have to look too hard to see why. Also the LSU cultivars, a group of scientifically bred figs that reflect well on science and vice versa.

    Fig trees and bushes, like any growing thing, can be finicky, in growth let alone in production of fruit, so after collecting a lot of different varieties these past few years, I've been focusing this year and singling out even more than in the past flavorful cultivars that seem to take it upon themselves to be prolific. Ronde de Bordeaux, Marseilles Black, LSU Improved Celeste. Starting over, I would start with those three. Multiples of those three. I would add a few Late Bordeaux trees for the potential brebas and for the unusual color of the unripe figs. (By "Marseilles Black" I mean also "Gino's Black" and quite a few other Mt Etna cultivars that within a year, or two at most, produce well.)

    Selections from these "prolific four" fig groups provide an assortment of figs somewhat similar to Pete's recommended introductory, gateway cultivars. Difference being that the gate in the gateway may not be as big with the prolific four because, of the Dark figs, Marseilles Black (etc) can be more difficult to come by than Hardy Chicago (though HC itself as a Mt Etna can be prolific), and, of the sugar figs, LSU Improved Celeste can be more difficult to come by than Celeste (Celeste can also be very prolific). For honey figs, Italian Honey would have to be added to the prolific four groupings unless LSU Champagne could serve as replacement. Several Late Bordeaux varieties are widely available. One flavor gap in the prolific four groups is that they provide no "Adriatic" flavor or look, light on the outside, dark on the inside.

    Though acquiring Ronde de Bordeaux, Marseilles Black, and Improved Celeste took somewhat longer than acquiring other similar more easily accessible cultivars, the fruit productivity has been as great or greater, for me at least, and looks to be greater going forward. One partial caveat would be that I made mistakes early on growing the more easily accessible cultivars, mistakes that I make less frequently with less severity now. That said, Improved Celeste, Marseilles Black, and Ronde de Bordeaux seem perhaps especially forgiving of mistakes, and simply more prolific in general than their more readily available counterparts.

    I'm inclined to think of these four prolific fig groupings, along with trees from other highly productive (and flavorful) cultivars, as comprising a core orchard, an orchard within an orchard (as far as home orchards go). I probably will treat the core orchard differently in the future, giving the pots the best sun and so on. I've already placed these cultivars in the best low limb and low cordon space, in ground.

    Since all of my trees are currently 5 years old or younger, with most being 3 and under, identifying and growing cultivars that are quite prolific in their very early years is especially rewarding. The Bordeauxs, the Mt Etnas, and the LSUs have caught my eye the most. I go outside and see a bunch of figs on a tree rather than bare limbs (or tiny figlets) and they usually belong to a Bordeaux type, a Mt Etna, or an LSU. Not that Lattarulla, Zingarella, Malta Black, and some others are not doing well at the moment. And granted, many of the most superb tasting cultivars will ripen but ripen late and few, I expect, meaning the success of the season will depend largely on the core. Anyway, a mid-June view from one young home orchard.
    Tony WV 6b
    https://mountainfigs.net/

  • #2
    Tony, that is a great, well written review of your trees. I have attempted to do something similar with
    mine. I do have one green fig, the Smith that is doing very well in ground. When I speak of in ground
    I mean planted in ground and it gets zero protection during the winter except 2-4 inches of pine straw
    for mulch. I may try pruning them back to 18-24 inches this fall and placing pine straw to that height
    in an effort to remedy die back to the ground. Thirty three of my forty five in ground trees this past
    winter had die back to the ground. As stated in another thread only three did not survive. I now have
    seventy five varieties in ground at my house and another thirty four in ground at another location. My
    goal is to only have ten in pots by the end of next spring. I have fifty one in pots now but some will
    go to the Southeastern Fig Fest in August in Charlotte, NC. In total that is about 160 trees down from
    some 180 last year due to give aways.
    newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks. Ten in pots, you say. That will be an interesting ten. We won't hold you to it. Seriously though, selecting down, or rather up, to a few cultivars can make for unexpected intrigue and drama.
      Tony WV 6b
      https://mountainfigs.net/

      Comment


      • #4
        Tony,
        Thanks for sharing your groupings...

        The Binello could be used as a stand-in for the Adriatic Flavor.

        I've been working on a similar list of cultivars for a local nurseryman, but using the Gateway Cultivars and Flavor Groups as the criteria. He's interested in a sampling of cultivars for customers. I will be including Hardy Chicago and Verte to complete the Flavor Groups and to extend the length of the fig harvest. Payment will be in trade for fruiting bushes Goji Berry, Saskatoon, etc.

        Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

        Comment


        • Kelby
          Kelby commented
          Editing a comment
          He should pay you to take the goji berry, blegh! Weedy and awful tasting. Guess some people like it...not me though!

        • COGardener
          COGardener commented
          Editing a comment
          The cultivar of goji I have is very pleasant tasting, strawberry like. My only complaint is it sends up suckers everywhere, some 10 feet away from the parent.

        • AscPete
          AscPete commented
          Editing a comment
          Kelby,
          There are actually several different cultivars in circulation from two different species of Lycium....

          Scott,
          That's good to hear... I plan on planting them in my forest garden and in raised beds (pruned as umbrella trees) so suckers are welcomed

      • #5
        He's not interested in skin color, the tint of a gold/yellow fig like Champagne or Janice? Or leaf shape?

        Binello or Conadria for Adriatic ... hmm, the Mt Etnas are sounding better and better! Verte is a cultivar for me that has produced absolutely beautiful lush foliage but almost whatever I do, pinch, prune, pot, in ground, lime, no lime, very little fruit. I'm beginning to wonder if it has a higher or different nutrient requirement than many cultivars. More phosphorus?
        Tony WV 6b
        https://mountainfigs.net/

        Comment


        • mountainfigs
          mountainfigs commented
          Editing a comment
          I'll try some Potassium then. Might do it but will see.

        • COGardener
          COGardener commented
          Editing a comment
          I've had to remove figs from the Strawberry Verte's I just rooted. I'm not doing or using anything special.
          Last edited by COGardener; 06-18-2015, 10:53 AM.

        • AscPete
          AscPete commented
          Editing a comment
          An earlier discussion on the application of K for fruit production (commercial fruit production), http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...attention-pete
          Note that they start off with balanced Macro and Micro nutrients then add the additional K for fig production.

      • #6
        Well written. Thank you for that summary.
        Randall - Gulf Breeze, FL. zone 8b. Wish list: Anything that "newnandawg" - Mike, ranks as an 8 out 10 or higher.

        Comment


        • mountainfigs
          mountainfigs commented
          Editing a comment
          My pleasure!

      • #7
        Thanks for a good read.
        Jerry, Canyon Lake TX 8b

        Comment


        • #8
          Yes, I enjoyed reading this Tony. I'm surprised you didn't mention Atreano. In my area (just a bit warmer and longer summers than yours) it definitely enjoys workhorse fig status in my collection. It generates a large number of tasty figs around mid-season (from a container) so it might be a late season fig for you. Another one that am being more and more impressed with for our area is Adriatic JH, which I have in-ground. So far for me Ronde de Bordeaux hasn't been very productive but it might not be the fault of the cultivar. Perhaps this year it will come into its own.
          Steve
          D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
          WL: Verdolino, Figue Jaune, Nantes Maroc, Lussheim

          Comment


          • #9
            I've read that about Atreano. And the Atreano that I saw in Herman2's yard a couple years ago was really big, easily his biggest and most fruit laden tree, at least before these last two brutal winters came smashing through. I have two Atreanos which I badly abused, nearly suffocating one in pot and the other in ground before my methods improved. They are coming into their own now and seem to be especially vigorous growers but the abuse took its toll and much fruit is probably a year off. I neglected more than a few light figs early on, this one not least.

            My Adriatic JH's are young but they look great and like a somehow stronger better quality cultivar than Atreano. (Kelby has noted that Herman2 has described Adriatic JH as a "white version of Madeira Black and Preto" and the leaves look like it to me.) My hopes are pinned largely on Adriatic JH and St Anthony and Champagne for early prolific light figs though I don't know how early, and maybe I should be looking to Atreano too. The flavor of Atreano, can you describe it? I can't recall much if any memorable description of it. Binello would be a good light fig and Janice Kadota, Paradiso GM-9, and Emerald Strawberry, etc, would be great light figs if only I could get them to ripen earlier.

            I think legginess and excessive growth can be an issue with Ronde de Bordeaux but if that can be controlled it looks like extreme fruit productivity can result.
            Tony WV 6b
            https://mountainfigs.net/

            Comment


            • #10
              For those growing Adriatic(JH), when does it ripen in relation to other figs? - I had heard it was not an early season fig. Mine was just rooted this year.
              Ed
              SW PA zone 6a

              Comment


              • mountainfigs
                mountainfigs commented
                Editing a comment
                It's on the list of Herman2's observations:
                70 days: Malta Black, Improved Celeste, Ronde de Bordeaux, St Anthony
                75 days: Mt Etna type figs (Hardy Chicago etc)
                80 days: Kathleen Black, Atreano, Dalmatie, TaKoma Violet, Violette de Bordeaux, Nero 600m, etc
                85 days: Adriatic JH, Longue D'Aout, Sal's Corleone, other Sicilian type figs.
                90 days: Battaglia, Vasilika Sika, Verte, Col de Dame, etc.
                100 days or more: Black Madeira, I 258, Preto, Verdal Longue, etc
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