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  • Let's talk English Brown Turkey!

    NOTE: I originally posted this elsewhere, but it's a great conversation to continue. I would love to add photos of fruits and leaves, if you have any to share, please do! Some know the bias fig collectors exhibit towards Brown Turkey figs, but I don't think there is enough attention being given to true English Brown Turkey varieties, especially for cold climate growers on accounts of it's exceptional hardiness.
    Breba crops on LaRadek's English Brown Turkey are reported to still produce even after temperatures of -10 to -15 F, which is astounding. In northern zones (below zone 7) the main crops will seldom ripen, but due to the high quality of the breba fruit it is not a total loss.

    Assumed to be English BT Variants
    Hanc's English Brown Turkey - As he aged, Hanc Mathies only kept 3 figs in his collection, this being one of them. He acquired it from (now defunct) Miller Nurseries as Brown Turkey. They got it from a wholesaler in the South. herman2 and Bob Harper both suspect it is actually a Southern Brown Turkey. It is extremely hardy, possibly to Zone 4b as per Bob Harper. It is a heavy bearer with an explosion of flavor as per 'Noss'. Reportedly very hard to propagate, even by air layer.
    http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post/show_single_post?pid=1273716032&postcount=4 and http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/1892526/english-brown-turkey-hm

    LaRadek's English Brown Turkey - A form of English BT from Eastern Europe, it has survived -18F with no damage and 70% dieback (but survival) at -23F in the Czech Republic. The mother plant is planted against a foundation. In zone 5b/6a it seems to ripen brebas most years. Fruits have a sweet, fruity fig taste. Closed eye.
    http://www.fikovniky.com/index.php?o...ask=view&id=51, http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post?id=7073256 , and http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post/laradeks-ebt-in-the-winter-6251600

    Süßer Georg (Sweet George) - According herman2, this is an English BT variant. Originates from a nursery near Vienna, Austria. According to the story, the nursery owners grandfather acquired the fig in Styria, Austria in the 1930's. A GardenWeb member from Europe seems to have sent this variety to at least 2 American collectors. Produces large fruits on both breba and main crop that are rain resistant. Brebas may not be as hardy as other EBT varieties.
    http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post/s%C3-%BC-%C3%9Fer-georg-fig-5146586 and http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post/sweet-george-fig-5511150

    Bayernfeige Violleta - According to a GardenWeb poster, a Belgian nursery found a good strain on English Brown Turkey and renamed it.
    http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/fig/msg080342546413.html

    Potential Variants
    Nexoe / Bornholm - Originating from the island of Bornholm, Denmark, this fig is well adapted to the cool, Baltic Climate. Legend has it was brought to Denmark centuries ago during the Hanseatic League by Italian craftsman. Produces good quality fruits with a melon flavor. Very hardy.
    http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post/nexoe-fig-variety-from-denmark-4669382 and http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post/bornholmnexoe-maincrop-81514-7040782

    Frank's Fig Unknown (from MichaelTuscon) - Acquired by Michael Tucson's father in the 1960's, likely from a Sicilian family. herman2 believes it to be an English Brown Turkey variant. Produces lots of high quality brebas, main crop seldom ripens.
    http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post/show_single_post?pid=1285912707&postcount=7

    Valliery
    http://www.planetfig.com/cultivars/fcveng8591.html

    Emma
    http://www.figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post/Emma-Fig-5135193​

    Here is a good thread detailing some of the many varieties going by moniker Brown Turkey: http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox....and-up-5498398


    PS: I feel I should note I only have Sweet George and Nexoe, both are small. I'm just sharing my reading and research. Hopefully as my collection grows and plants mature I can provide some more insights and comparisons. If anyone has some of the others they'd like to share, send me a PM .
    Last edited by Kelby; 01-19-2016, 01:35 PM.
    https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
    SE PA
    Zone 6

  • #2
    Kelby,

    Can you clarify if the research above is for trees without any winter protection? That's what it sounds like but I just wanted to make sure.

    It sounds like i have a few more fig varieties to acquire as I'd like to eventually have some fig in-ground as well as my others in pots.

    thanks
    Kevin (Eastern MA - Zone 5b/6a)

    Comment


    • Kelby
      Kelby commented
      Editing a comment
      That's been my impression but not much has stated clearly either way. LaRadek's sounds darn near indestructible!

  • #3
    Kevin, follow the first link below Kelbys posting on LaRadek BT for winter pics of the LBT in the CR. Seems unprotected to me...

    Kelby, I've got one of those LBT starts with your name on it.

    Jesse in western Maine, zone 4/5
    Wishlist- Figues Juane, Demos unk, Nantes Maroc, Thermalito

    Comment


    • Kelby
      Kelby commented
      Editing a comment
      Excellent, thanks Jesse.

      The link Jesse mentioned shows the LaRadek growing almost out of the foundation. That might help with some cold protection, but at -18F it's not much.

  • #4
    Figs are indigenous to an arid semi tropical region which is a Zone 9 -10 minimum. The hardy and healthy cultivars can withstand some extended periods of cold temperature below 20* F but they still suffer die back without winter protection.
    That's my usual comment when I start any discussion about "Cold Hardy" fig trees.
    The linked LaRadek shown in the pictures is growing in a micro climate next to and under the house. The radiated heat from the house is creating this warm zone. From the listed captions the temperature is -18*C which is 0*F.
    IMO, the best that you can expect from a Hardy unprotected in ground fig Fig tree in zone 5 or 6 is for the roots to survive the yearly freeze and regrowth from the ground.
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

    Comment


    • Kelby
      Kelby commented
      Editing a comment
      Respectfully, it says in the first link that LaRadek has had that tree survive -27 C, which is -16.6 F, even with a microclimate that is impressive. It doesn't say there whether or not brebas survived or cropping occured, but I know some people have communicated with him so I think the info stated is pretty accurate, barring translation or conversion errors.

      While figs are indeed semi-tropical and most will have to fight in colder zones, I think it's entirely plausible that some strains of figs could have genes or traits for extraordinary hardiness given how much variety we see within cultivated varieties. Many other plants display a range of hardiness based on varieties (apples are generally zone 5 hardy but some do well in zone 2, kaki persimmons generally are zone 8 but some do well in zone 6 or colder) or species (Musa basjoo). In a very bad year, yes, they may die back, but it's worth trying. The inherent difficulty is isolating what is killing a plant at what temperatures. Can it survive one night at -5F but the wind kills it? Can it survive 10 nights of 0F with a foot of snow?]

      Respectfully disagreeing, but I believe this is the exception to the rule.

    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      I'm not disputing that the tree can survive the -18F or -23F. The roots of an in ground tree can survive these temperatures for extended periods.
      The unprotected branches will not survive extended periods at those temperatures...
      If you are looking to harvest breba figs you will need to protect the branches from those lower temperatures.

  • #5
    Substitute anti-freeze for the MiracleGro starting in August, you'll see them make brebas during a polar vortex;)
    Jesse in western Maine, zone 4/5
    Wishlist- Figues Juane, Demos unk, Nantes Maroc, Thermalito

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Or have extra firewood to keep you warm...
      Last edited by AscPete; 02-24-2015, 11:53 AM.

  • #6
    Kelby,
    There is no dispute that the roots can survive very cold temperatures once they are established...

    My comment is about the fruiting branches and being able to harvest figs in a short growing season.
    in the linked LaRadek website, http://www.fikovniky.com/index.php?o...ask=view&id=51 , Simply look at the picture sequence Jan 24, 2010 to July 2010 with a "frost" of -19C (-2F) the branches have been pruned back and probably wouldn't ripen any figs by September (as a guess).

    IMO, Any relatively health cultivar can probably be grown successfully in ground in colder zones with enough winter protection of the branches.
    Last edited by AscPete; 02-24-2015, 12:23 PM. Reason: typos and clarification :)
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

    Comment


    • #7
      That's a fair point Pete, I missed those captions. I'm on my work computer which doesn't allow translators for some reason. I'll hold out hope the branches of it being able to stand frost, but we'll just have to wait and see for more people to trial it.
      https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
      SE PA
      Zone 6

      Comment


      • #8
        I realize the answer to my question is going to be all based off of opinion. Yet still I ask. what would each of say are the best to better Brown Turkey cultivars for the following conditions: Pot cultivation, very high altitude, very short season, hot dry days with cold nights.

        I already know that my collection is starting to get out of control, yet I want to try more cultivars for myself and there is really no place in or near Colorado to go try figs. Outside of Enchanted in New Mexico, so I really just need to grow my own.

        So what I'm asking is what I should get concerning BT.
        Scott - Colorado Springs, CO - Zone 4/5 (Depending on the year) - Elevation 6266ft

        “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” – Bill Mollison

        Comment


        • Kelby
          Kelby commented
          Editing a comment
          I recall Rafed telling me that LaRadek's is his favorite fig, not just English Brown Turkey.

        • AscPete
          AscPete commented
          Editing a comment
          The Southern Brown Turkey aka Eastern Brown Turkey are hardy trees that produce relatively early in the season. The trees are very similar to Celeste. Commercially its available at Edible Landscaping Nursery. Here's a discussion from the past... http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post?id=6381140
          Good Luck.

      • #9
        I have a Verns brown turkey (from rcantor). It's 3 years old now in a large pot. It's very cold hardy past 2 winters just in a screened in porch now this one in an unheated shed. It's had some major die back each year but still fruited on old growth. Seems more susceptible to rust than others but other wise does well here in MD.

        Comment


        • #10
          Scott,

          The Southern Brown Turkey aka Eastern Brown Turkey are hardy trees that produce relatively early in the season. The trees are very similar to Celeste. Commercially its available at Edible Landscaping Nursery. Here's a discussion from the past... http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post?id=6381140
          Good Luck.
          Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Ross,
            No, I don't know of any other commercially available cultivar.

          • figgrower
            figgrower commented
            Editing a comment
            Rolling River Nursery sells a "Southern Brown Turkey":

            "This is the classic Brown Turkey variety common to the Deep South. Large purple-brown figs are delicious and sweet with light red colored flesh. A tough and productive tree that is easy to grow in warm, humid environments. Hardiness zones 7-10." I think this is probably the same as EL's.

          • Shawnee Prophet
            Shawnee Prophet commented
            Editing a comment
            I have a "brown turkey" that actually came from Turkey.

        • #11
          Kelby,
          This is what my LBT and SG looked like last year. I am very interested in HBT and Nexoe if anyone wants to trade. I am ALWAYS looking for cold hardy things. I hope this adds to or helps.

          Comment


          • Kelby
            Kelby commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks Michael. I should be fruiting Nexoe, Sweet George, and LaRadek's this year. I should be adding 2-3 more English BT types this winter if I am successful rooting.

        • #12
          Does anyone have pictures of each BT type? Southern, California & English? I'd also like to see pictures of Hanc's, LaRadek's & Vern's if anyone is willing to share!
          Zone 7A - Philadelphia
          Flavor Profiles & Variety List / Facebook / YouTube / Blog

          Comment


          • #13
            Guys please keep this fig going as one day I would not mind cuttings since I live in a challenging zone. Any or all strains of EBT sound great!

            Comment


            • drew51
              drew51 commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks Kelby! Well even if it's 2017 fall, that would be great! What comes around goes around! Today I made arrangements to hand off three rooted cuttings to the new guy The Podpiper who lives 35 miles away. He is coming over to pick them up. Eventually being generous works out. Karma is just like that! Thanks again, you rock!

            • aphahn
              aphahn commented
              Editing a comment
              Careful Andrew, we can't seem to get rid of the last "new guy" I have a couple trees to. Only ever going to grow 2... Un hu

              Last edited by aphahn; 01-23-2016, 12:13 PM.

            • COGardener
              COGardener commented
              Editing a comment
              How wierd is that Andy!

          • #14
            Kelby,

            I'm not 100% sure, but Sodus Sicilian looks very similar to an English Brown Turkey type. What do ya think?
            Zone 7A - Philadelphia
            Flavor Profiles & Variety List / Facebook / YouTube / Blog

            Comment


            • Kelby
              Kelby commented
              Editing a comment
              It's in my trial, the fruit seems similar but the leaf shape is different. This year I'll have it side by side with other EBTs.

          • #15
            In England, the English Brown Turkey and Brunswick are the only varieties that survive consistently outside in their cold climate according to The English gourmet food writer Edward Bunyard. He says in his The Anatomy of Dessert (1929) “The best all round variety for British gardens is the Brown Turkey, a medium fruit with a chocolate rather than brown skin and a deep red flesh that is of excellent flavor, sweet and rich.”
            Mara, Southern California,
            Climate Zone: 1990=9b 2012= 10a 2020=?

            Comment


            • #16
              I originally thought Sodus Sicilian was similar to EBT, but as it fruited last year it has similarities, but was different. I look forward to seeing the one I gave Kelby ripen next to an EBT for direct comparison.

              https://youtu.be/IO6O9j3N6EA
              Youtube: PA Figs eBay: tdepoala
              Wishlist: Galicia Negra, Paritjal Rimada, Black Ischia UCD

              Comment


              • #17
                I would like to add Olympian to the list of possible English / European Brown Turkey cultivars... The leaves and figs are appear typical of EBT's, even the pink osteole of main crop figs.

                https://www.agristarts.com/index.cfm.../459/index.htm
                Won the Retailers' Choice Award at the 2014 FarWest Show! 'Olympian' is a ultra cold hardy fig & absolutely delicious. This fig produces very sweet fruits with thin purple skin with a red to violet flesh. Discovered by retired biologist Denny McGaughy, he named it after the city where he found it in a sheltered location. Denny worked with Malli Aradhy, a geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Clonal Germplasm Repository to conduct DNA test to find out if it was a known cultivar. It did not match any of the 200+ figs in the repository. It appears Denny has found a unique heirloom variety that produces well in cool & coastal climates.
                Although the sales literature claims that its DNA testing shows that it was not already in the USDA database of ~ 200 figs tested, there also doesn't appear to be any English Brown Turkey cultivars on the list...
                https://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-h...7787#post97787

                Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

                Comment


                • ross
                  ross commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I had also thought that Olympian was similar to something as well, but I figured no one had the same suspicions because of DNA testing.. Really good find there, Pete. I also thought it may be similar to LDA or Vashon Violet.

                • AscPete
                  AscPete commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Ross,
                  LDA is a completely different fig
                  Vashon Violet from reports is a Brunswick type, the breba figs that ripen in cooler weather are what create the distinctive appearance.
                  Gene's Vashon is the possible EBT type...
                  https://kiwifruitsalsa.wordpress.com...-colored-figs/

                • ross
                  ross commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Must be Gene's then. See this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lHbv0uxc24

                  And any fig with those long brebas raises my suspicions.

              • #18
                A quick update on the topic. Due to some heavy-handed pruning I did not receive any brebas on any of my English Brown Turkeys, so I have no comparison for that this year.

                At this moment Nexoe, Sweet George, and LaRadek's all look essentially identical. Sodus Sicilian also looks the same in leaf shape, that will be nice to compare.

                If anyone has Emma or Michael Tucson's "Frank's Fig UNK" or any other EBTs that they want to trade, let me know!
                Last edited by Kelby; 07-27-2016, 09:48 AM.
                https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
                SE PA
                Zone 6

                Comment


                • AscPete
                  AscPete commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Tissue Cultured Olympian (which will produce figs by their 2nd leaf) are also available from Wellspring Gardens on Ebay or Website...
                  http://www.ebay.com/itm/Olympian-Fig...0AAOxy0bRTDTQa

                • YATAMA
                  YATAMA commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I planted a tiny wellspring TC Olympian in a pot March 2017, transferred to inground June 2017,ATE IT'S SINGLE FIG SEPTEMBER 2017.

              • #19
                This thread is sorely lacking in pictures... hint hint Kelby!
                Youtube: PA Figs eBay: tdepoala
                Wishlist: Galicia Negra, Paritjal Rimada, Black Ischia UCD

                Comment


                • ross
                  ross commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I agree. EBT seems pretty diverse if looking at pics on F4F. Would be great to set the record straight on these. Looking forward to it, Kelby.

              • #20
                LaRadek's
                https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
                SE PA
                Zone 6

                Comment


                • #21
                  Sweet George
                  https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
                  SE PA
                  Zone 6

                  Comment


                  • #22
                    Nexoe
                    https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
                    SE PA
                    Zone 6

                    Comment


                    • #23
                      Sodus Sicilian
                      https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
                      SE PA
                      Zone 6

                      Comment


                      • #24
                        Baby toad and turtle
                        https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
                        SE PA
                        Zone 6

                        Comment


                        • GregMartin
                          GregMartin commented
                          Editing a comment
                          UNK Kelby's amphibian
                          UNK Kelby's reptilian

                          They don't look quite ripe yet Kelby! I think you need to wait a few more days
                          Last edited by GregMartin; 07-27-2016, 05:47 PM.

                        • figgrower
                          figgrower commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Wait until they start to wrinkle, but don't let them split, or they might rot!

                        • arachyd
                          arachyd commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Can you post leaf pics?

                      • #25
                        Great thread. I now know my Eastern Brown Turkey from Watts is really a Southern Brown Turkey.

                        I just recently harvested a fig from a Brown Turkey that was purchased from a local nursery. It was a gooey, sweet and jammy with a golden color inside. The outside was a honey maple color with darker verticle ridges all around. It is a fig of which I will never be without.
                        Jerry, Canyon Lake TX 8b

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