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  • Winter Protection Plan... In-Ground Fig Trees?

    Yes, I know its a bit early but in the past all my dead and poor producing trees were caused by inadequate winter protection which resulted in winter kill and die back. This past winter and spring has been the most successful due to better planning the previous summer. Additional insulation and added space heating for the stored potted trees resulted in early bud break and breba figs on multiple cultivars.

    Click image for larger version

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    The attached diagram is my winter protection and pruning plan for in-ground fig trees @ my zone 6 / 5B location. The wire enclosures will be filled with Pine Shavings with a coverage depth of ~ 12 inches. Over the past 3 winters I've tested the pine shavings and have found that they will provide 100% protection of the branches at a minimum thickness of ~ 6 inches in my zone.

    What are your Winter Protection Plans for this year?
    Last edited by AscPete; 08-29-2015, 08:17 AM.
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

  • #2
    Am I reading that right? You cut the bush forms down to three scaffold branches about 12" long.

    I would have thought you would have kept more of the previous years growth.

    How many figs do you generally get each season pruning like that?

    Should I cut potted figs that I protect in a garage down that far as well?
    Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Zaffiro, Moro de Caneva, Nerucciolo d'Elba, Bordissot Blanca Negra, Rubado, Black Celeste

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    • #3
      Do you wrap with anything to keep the pine dry?
      Hi my name is Art. I buy fig cuttings-so I can grow more figs-so I can sell more figs-so I can buy more fig cuttings-so I can grow more figs....

      Comment


      • AscPete
        AscPete commented
        Editing a comment
        No, the shavings were simply piled on top of the branches. It will get damp and freeze from the top down protecting the buried scaffold branches.

    • #4
      Don,
      Yes, there are only 3 or 4 short scaffold branches.

      Figs are produced on new growth so the fruiting branches are grown directly from these short scaffolds. The previous years growth is 'wasted' wood which will typically not produce any figs and breba are only produced on the tips of last years branches (the undeveloped figs).

      Each fruiting branch can produce up to a dozen figs once the tree is established.

      No, Potted figs can be pruned differently since they will not be exposed to extended periods below freezing. http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...-espalier-form But they could be pruned the same if that is your desired shape. The intent is to protect a sufficient amount of scaffold branches to form the foundation for the fruiting branches in Spring. A standard bush form tree only has 3 or 4 scaffolds also.


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      I've posted these photo before, its the growth from the winter protected espalier...
      They were two 3/4" caliper (@ the base) branches that were buried below ~ 6 inches of Pine Shavings.

      Click image for larger version

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      And this is what a low scaffold looks like for a potted tree (VDB EL). The scaffold branches are just below the rim of the container and ~ 2" above the soil line.
      Last edited by AscPete; 08-28-2015, 11:38 PM.
      Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

      Comment


      • don_sanders
        don_sanders commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks for the detailed response. I had seen the post that you linked before and have been training most in a similar fashion.

        Hopefully I'll be able to get some descent figs next year.

      • Taverna78
        Taverna78 commented
        Editing a comment
        Fig only grow off new "green" branches?

      • AscPete
        AscPete commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes, main crop figs are only produced on new growth at the base of the current seasons leaves, breba crop are figs that did not develop last season usually near the tips of last seasons growth. 1 year and older wood will not produce figs but can produce new branches where figs will develop on the new growth.

    • #5
      Due to my short growing season the fig trees produce limited vegetative growth, by pruning the trees to the "Japanese" technique the resources are directed to the fruiting branches and fig production not to maintaining excess main trunks and scaffolds.

      Most unprotected trees will grow back limbs from below the soil line but very few cultivars will ripen figs before fall in zone 6. Winterization plans ensure that the in-ground (and stored) trees will have enough existing structure in Spring to grow and ripen figs.
      Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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      • #6
        I did something similar to your enclosure's last year with my 1 in ground fig. It's planted in a bottomless whiskey barrel. To start I put a number of stakes around the outer rim of the barrel. They I wrapped a 2 1/2 - 3 foot high plastic fence around it. I trimmed the fig to the height of that and tied all the branches together towards the middle of the barrel. I then filled it with shredded leaves. After that I wrapped it with insulation and covered the top with a plastic bucket. Finally, i covered it all with 6 mil plastic and tied it down.

        Maybe a little overkill but absolutely no dieback this year. My sister-in-laws father (who I inherited the tree from) did something similar every year.

        I'll take pictures and post when I do it this year.
        Last edited by fitzski; 08-29-2015, 03:17 PM.
        Kevin (Eastern MA - Zone 5b/6a)

        Comment


        • AscPete
          AscPete commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks for sharing your procedure...
          Looking forward to the photos.

      • #7
        A bit of a tangential question... What do you do with your pine shavings in the spring? Do you reuse them each year or use fresh shavings each fall? Is part of this system using generated internal heat from the pine shavings mass beginning to compost?

        I'm in 7a at the base of the Blue Ridge so I'm looking at doing something like this for my one in-ground tree and eventually for all my trees that go into the ground.
        Bryant...Franklin County, VA...Zone 7a. Wish List: a 32 hour day....more sleep

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        • #8
          Same as last winter, pile mulch around the trunks and hope for a mild winter! Didn't get a mild winter last year, but the plants grew back strongly and are starting to ripen as we speak.
          https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
          SE PA
          Zone 6

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for sharing your plan...
            The past 2 winters have been the coldest in over a decade, I hold out no hope for a 'mild' one this year

          • GregMartin
            GregMartin commented
            Editing a comment
            It is a strong El Nino year so we should get a bit milder winter, but last time we had a strong El Nino we got killed with a massive ice storm up here in Maine (10 days no power). The colder winters were easier.

        • #9
          Pete you see my postings on winter protection? Is best to keep and and all moisture away from direct contact with tree because will cause mold... If you no see mine tell me I explain for you otherwise tis good method too... Because I in Chicago I use
          Burlap then wall insulation then tarpaper then bucket again.


          http://youtu.be/71NlBkOvUxs
          Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
          1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy ๐Ÿ‘ผ๐Ÿผ.
          2) This weeks ebay auctions.

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for sharing your plans.
            Its similar to the plans that have been used in NYC for decades, but many of the older trees in NYC had been too large to cover but the past 2 winters have reduced their size due to die back.

        • #10
          Bryant,
          Some of the pine shavings is used as mulch on the soil surface while some is stored in bags in a shed after its been sun dried and Yes, its reused yearly. There is almost no composting since its not mixed with soil microbes or other organic matter. There is minimal heat generated and the soil surface is the only place that there is any microbial interactions, the cold winter temperatures also keep any possible composting to a minimum. BTW I sprinkle Coffee Grounds on the surface in the spring to stop ants from colonizing the Pine Shavings Mulch.

          Good luck with whatever winter protection procedure you decide to use.
          Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

          Comment


          • DBJohnson
            DBJohnson commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks, Pete! I'm planning to cage my trees with either 2x4 welded wire or chicken wire and fill it in with whatever mulch I can find in bulk (probably shredded hardwood...will look for pine shavings but this isn't a big pine area). Probably wrap and cover the whole thing with a tarp.

        • #11
          I just have one inground tree so far, was planted in June, it is about 2.5' tall so far. I am also planning to bury it in mulch, and was thinking of using a wire ring like Pete, or an upside down old plastic garbage can or large wastebasket that I would cut the bottom off to fill with the mulch. In spring the mulch will be spread over the bed it is in (with some of my wife's flowers). I was planning to cover the whole thing with a tarp. I am concerned about mold/rot from too much precipitation. My non-growing season has a fair amount of rain normally and there is usually a good bit of thawing and freezing once real winter hits. I intend to add at least a few more inground next year.

          The winterization plan for the rest this winter is to put the pots and SIPs in my cold basement room under the front porch and keep the temp above freezing. Some will need root pruned, which I can do gradually over the winter by just bringing the pots into the basement for the surgery. Some will be pruned trying to get better branching from as per Pet's diagrams on ideal form for figs in pots.
          Ed
          SW PA zone 6a

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for sharing your plan.
            IMO, one of the reasons that the 'Pile' of wood shavings work is that it remains well aerated to prevent mold growth but the top layer gets saturated then freezes to create a 'Cap' over the mound. When the mound is covered with a tarp it usually increases mold growth.

        • #12
          Any particular strategy for rodent protection? I lost a lot last year due to an invasion of voles.
          Andy - Zone 6a Lat 39.9ยบ N, Altitude 5390' Westminster CO โš˜ Scion List

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, the lower 12 to 18 inches of the enclosure can be wrapped with hardware cloth to create a 'vole proof' barrier. Similar to tree bark protectors...

          • strudeldog
            strudeldog commented
            Editing a comment
            To be vole proof you better have that enclosure go below ground a few inches that inch or 2 below more important than that couple inches above snow level

          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Phil,
            Yes, all Vole Proof barriers are buried (sunk) in the ground to be effective.

        • #13
          I know when winterizing potted figs they should be watered once a month or so, however what about the sips. Should they be drained and topped watered, or just leave the reservoir full.
          Dave- Waterford, Ct. Zone 6a

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, they should be drained and watered from the top when needed. If water is left in the reservoir it will promote root rot.

          • DaveL
            DaveL commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks Pete, will do.

        • #14
          Originally posted by AscPete View Post
          Don,
          Yes, there are only 3 or 4 short scaffold branches.

          Figs are produced on new growth so the fruiting branches are grown directly from these short scaffolds. The previous years growth is 'wasted' wood which will typically not produce any figs and breba are only produced on the tips of last years branches (the undeveloped figs).

          Each fruiting branch can produce up to a dozen figs once the tree is established.

          No, Potted figs can be pruned differently since they will not be exposed to extended periods below freezing. http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...-espalier-form But they could be pruned the same if that is your desired shape. The intent is to protect a sufficient amount of scaffold branches to form the foundation for the fruiting branches in Spring. A standard bush form tree only has 3 or 4 scaffolds also.


          [ATTACH=CONFIG]n37508[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]n37506[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]n37507[/ATTACH]
          I've posted these photo before, its the growth from the winter protected espalier...
          They were two 3/4" caliper (@ the base) branches that were buried below ~ 6 inches of Pine Shavings.

          [ATTACH=CONFIG]n37509[/ATTACH]
          And this is what a low scaffold looks like for a potted tree (VDB EL). The scaffold branches are just below the rim of the container and ~ 2" above the soil line.


          Ah! So then why worry so much to protect majority of tree? Why not just cut to ground and then lay bail of hay or bag of mulch over it. Then next season it will grow ground up with plenty of fig?
          Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
          1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy ๐Ÿ‘ผ๐Ÿผ.
          2) This weeks ebay auctions.

          Comment


          • #15
            Originally posted by Taverna78 View Post
            Ah! So then why worry so much to protect majority of tree? Why not just cut to ground and then lay bail of hay or bag of mulch over it. Then next season it will grow ground up with plenty of fig?
            Exactly.
            Yes, the existing pruning techniques should be revised...

            Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

            Comment


            • #16
              But I have fig grow on hard wood from last year... Is difference?
              You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 2 photos.
              Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
              1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy ๐Ÿ‘ผ๐Ÿผ.
              2) This weeks ebay auctions.

              Comment


              • AscPete
                AscPete commented
                Editing a comment
                The attached photos appear to be main crop figs.
                They are at the same nodes as leaves.
                Last seasons growth would have breba figs, but there would not be any leaves at those node only figs and or new branches (buds).

            • #17
              Ah... Okay Grazie
              Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
              1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy ๐Ÿ‘ผ๐Ÿผ.
              2) This weeks ebay auctions.

              Comment


              • #18
                Pete tis is breba?
                You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 3 photos.
                Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
                1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy ๐Ÿ‘ผ๐Ÿผ.
                2) This weeks ebay auctions.

                Comment


                • #19
                  Mike,
                  If that limb grew last year (last season) then that is a breba. Breba crop overwinter as undeveloped figs from the past season.
                  But if that limb grew this year (season) and the leaf fell off then its a main crop fig.

                  This is a photo of a breba ripening earlier this season. The main crop figs are above on this season's growth.
                  Click image for larger version

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                  Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

                  Comment


                  • #20
                    Ah... I see. Okay then I have couple breba but will no have chance to ripen to eat. Weather here is starting to act crazy again. Sunday night was 42F degrees and today is 91F degrees. Trees are lost what to do.
                    Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
                    1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy ๐Ÿ‘ผ๐Ÿผ.
                    2) This weeks ebay auctions.

                    Comment


                    • #21
                      There has been some current discussions about winter dormancy and temperature / light requirements for healthy winterization and breba production with the onset of frost in the northeast, http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...ancy-questions and http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...-vs-breba-figs .

                      A summary of the discussions for winter protection in colder zones based on the linked academic documents...
                      Breba Figs production; minimum winter temperature of 25*F
                      Stage I ... Spring growth to quiescence (stagnant stage or stage II), 7 - 8 weeks
                      Stage II ... Quiescence stage 2 weeks.
                      Stage III ... Ripening 2 weeks.
                      (academic clarification to the discussed 30-60-90 days fig ripening rule of thumb)

                      Main Crop Fig production; minimum winter temperature of 25*F with severe die back below 15*F
                      Stage I ... Rapid growth to quiescence (stagnant stage or stage II), 5 - 6 weeks
                      Stage II ... Quiescence stage 3 - 8 weeks (depending on the fig variety)
                      Stage III ... Ripening 3 - 5 weeks.
                      (academic clarification to the discussed 30-60-90 days fig ripening rule of thumb)

                      Fig trees will go dormant with continuous temperatures below 40*F, wake / break dormancy with sustained temperatures above 45*F and they have a low chilling requirement
                      Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

                      Comment


                      • #22
                        I am trying to do my inground figs better this winter....last year I just pruned low and dumped 12" mulch, this year my yard looks much more sculptural, with cylinders and burial mounds. I used pine bark from a local mill as my insulation, some trees got bent over and covered, a couple I built chicken wire hoops around and filled with the bark. For a few lucky plants , I also added some foam sheet insulation scraps on top.
                        I am considering adding a layer of plastic to the outside, but worry about lack of breathablity and rot.
                        You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 2 photos.
                        Jesse in western Maine, zone 4/5
                        Wishlist- earliest maincrop varieties

                        Comment


                        • #23
                          You could try plastic on one burial mound and one without, let us know the outcome.
                          Calvin, Wish list is to finish working on the new house, someday.
                          Bored? Grab a rake, paint roller, or a cordless drill and come over!

                          Comment


                          • #24
                            Jesse I wrapped mine in plastic last year (for the purposes of trying to keep the insulation dry) but with the advise of members I left a vent at the top to let the humidity escape. It worked out well. This year I only put plastic on the top with the rest being breathable material.

                            Below are mine from a couple weeks ago when I started winterizing them. Before wrapping them I first tied up the trees as tight as possible and wrapped tinfoil on the bottom foot of the trees to keep the mice from chewing at the base. I drove some metal stakes into the ground to brace the enclosure. I used old carpet remnants I kept (for this very reason) and stuffed the centres with dry leaves. I put a final wrap of garden fabric around the carpet (makes it look a little nicer and maybe will help keep the carpet dryer) and put plastic over the top down about 8" just to keep moisture out.

                            Tyler

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                            the second pic I just took tonight all 9 tucked in for the winter
                            Last edited by TylerJ; 11-23-2016, 05:25 PM. Reason: Added picture
                            London, ON, Canada zone 6a

                            Comment


                            • cis4elk
                              cis4elk commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Very nice. What is on the ground? It looks like concrete pavers. How did your trees fair last year as far as amount of die back and what was your coldest temps with duration( such as " on average our nightly low temp over winter is around -10 C but we had a 3 day stretch that got down to -20 C")

                            • TylerJ
                              TylerJ commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Yes those are brick paving stones just used as a border around them. Last year I only had 3 trees inground.. I added 6 more this past spring. The 3 I overwintered last year... MBvs, Hardy Chicago and Desert King all came out fine. My DK produced brebas for me this year. Last year they had 4 or 5 layers of carpeting with less dry leaves in the centre as the trees were smaller. This year they have 2 layers of carpet with more leaves so I'll see how they fair. Our temps I think were similar to yours with -10C. We get a few stretches occasionally of -20C. I planted these against along a tree line on the north side so it gives them a bit of protection from the north winds.

                          • #25
                            I read over this thread and now I'm a little confused if the recommendation from the original post in the picture/diagram is still valid. Is it suggested to cut the tree down to about 12" high, keeping some main branches and then covering or better to cut the tree to the ground level and then cover? Thanks
                            Queens, N.Y. zone 7b

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                            • TylerJ
                              TylerJ commented
                              Editing a comment
                              The more tree you can protect over winter the more growth and figs you will harvest next year. Its just a matter of how much work you want to do in overwintering them. The smaller the size you overwinter the less work involved. Cutting down to 12" would certainly make protecting them much easier than mine I posted above. The diagram shows 2 methods... one for a bush form and one for low cordon espalier form.
                              Last edited by TylerJ; 11-23-2016, 06:02 PM.
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