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  • Splitting Figs

    For discussion: I am still not convinced that all my figs are splitting because of rain and or humidity. We have been through dry and low humidity conditions for several weeks until this past Saturday. We have had partly cloudy to mostly sunny conditions. Over night temps in the upper 50's and low 60's and highs in the 70's to near 80. I have not picked an edible fig in about four weeks. I have disposed of so many figs that it is unbelievable. It's not just a few varieties but more than twenty five. Has anyone had similar conditions and harvested any figs? One other constant during this period has been the dreaded SWD. Is it possible that the cooler temps and or the presence of the SWD are the cause?
    newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA

  • #2
    Mike ever since the four day storm parked itself over the east coast over two weeks ago I have had continually splitting figs even though we have been largely dry since the storm departed. It is almost as though the storm soaked all near-ripe figs and the trees and gave them some sort of semi-permanent malaise. Herman says most of his figs are splitting due to soggy in ground conditions but my plants are all in containers. Its very odd. I am wondering if this is something that will occur year after year say, when a hurricane soaks our area or some other event of constant moisture. Even the figs that have not split have been of low quality. Of course, it is autumn and it is cooler, but we have generally been mild, with highs in the 60s and low 70s.
    Rafael
    Zone 10b, Miami, FL

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    • #3
      Rafael thanks for your response. A few of those mentioned above are in pots but mostly in ground. Have you noticed any SWD present? I would be interested to know if Herman has observed any also.
      newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA

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      • Rafaelissimmo
        Rafaelissimmo commented
        Editing a comment
        Mike I have not noticed SWD here but we do have some small flies and mini-pillbugs that have been eating my ripening figs, I had more souring in the early september heat when they were ripening too quickly for me to pick them all. Once the rains came, just the bugs I mentioned.

    • #4
      I'm glad you brought this up Mike. It sounds like your describing my figs. Fruit flies every where and almost all ripe figs are split and sour. Even the trees planted in the greenhouse in dry soil. SWDs are among the mix also.
      Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.

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      • #5
        Same here. Spoiled and split figs. I've thrown out hundreds of figs this year.
        Art
        Western Pa -6a

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        • #6
          Have you tried fertilizing? "Sandy soils in high rainfall areas are prone to potassium deficiency." And potassium deficiency can cause split fruit. Also: http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=PRP19210219.2.16
          Tony WV 6b
          https://mountainfigs.net/

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          • #7
            Tony, thanks for that link. Hope you dont mind me posting the whole article.
            Pacific Rural Press, Volume 101, Number 8, 19 February 1921

            "Fig Splitting and Souring Can Be Reduced
            By Prof. J. Eliot Coit
            During the last fig season, from August 1 to October 1, the writer, with J. C. Johnston of the University of California, investigated the splitting and souring of figs in the San Joaquiri Valley. With the advice and co-opera-tion of Prof. I. J. Condit and a number of fig growers, six Smyrna fig orchards, representing different soil and climatic conditions, were selected at Modesto, Ceres, Merced, Fresno, Reedley and Farmersville near Exeter, and recording stations were established. At each of these stations a Friez recording hygro-thermograph gave a ncontinuous record of both the ter-
            perature and the relative humidity of the air. Two Livingston spherical white atmometer cups gave the evaporation record and weekly tests were made of the soil moisture at two- and six-foot depths. Careful notes were taken at weekly intervals. A number of fig growers in the vicinity of each station co-operated by furnishing data as to their experience with splitting and souring in previous seasons. It is to be regretted that the season turned out to be unusual rather than typical, in that rains varying from a trace to a half-inch occurred at all the stations August 23, 24 and 25 and
            September 17 and 24 in the midst of the drying period. It did not require a scientific , investigation to discover that figs would not cure properly in the rain! While it is highly desirable that this work be repeated during another and more auspicious season, certain general conclusions of interest to fig growers may be presented at this time. The previously published opinion of Prof. Condit, that splitting is not due to over caprification is confirmed. It is evident that splitting is a purely physical phenomenon due to the inherent weakness of the Smyrna fig ana its inability to withstand the turgor arising from excessive sap pressure. High sap pressure in the fig is caused by failure of the leaves to evaporate the water as fast as it is taken in by the roots. In normal weather splitting occurs at night when low temperatures, high humidity and lack of sunlight greatly reduce the evaporation from the leaves. The remedy is to select a location where there is a warm, dry night breeze or reduce the amount of soil moisture or both. The temperature of the deeper soil mass and other factors which govern the rate of water intake do not have as great a daily fluctuation as the above ground factors which govern the rate of water loss. There is enough variation in the structural weakness of individual figs to account for the fact that hot all figs on any one tree are likely to split. Figs have been found to split in all stages from the immature half-grown state to the point after
            From a study of our soil moisture figures we offer the following specific recommendations: - (1) Do not plant figs for drying purposes where the roots can reach water or saturated soil. ' '• ■ ■ ■' . f (2) Select a locality where it is hot and dry, especially at night. (3) During the ripening season, do not let the soil moisture (average 6 feet) increase to more than 30 per cent of the moisture equivalent. (4) Heavy soils are best for figs because the moisture content is less subject to sudden fluctuations and because nematodes are less active. (5) In humid, localities where orchards are already established the trees should be thinned out so all sides may have sun and air and evaporation encouraged. - , ' (6) The best way to get size and quality is by manuring and cultivating rather than by irrigating. If water is necessary, apply it not later than* April. -' •■
            ripening when there is a loss of turgor due to wilting. More Sugar, Less Souring. Careful observations lead us to believe that during the ripening process the sugar enters the fig simultaneously with the disappearance of the milk. Soon after this the cell walls of the juice tissue surrounding the seeds hydrolizes, dissolves or deliquesces, which results in the liberation of a certain quantity of juice within the fig. This point is of particular importance -in connection with souring. Inasmuch as the atmosphere is filled With spores of many kinds of yeasts, molds, smuts, and bacteria, and since the eye of the Smyrna fig is open, it is unavoidable that these agents gain access to the interior of the majority of the figs. If the juice were all retained within the ceLls, then only pathogenic organisms, or those capable of penetrating the cell wall, could accomplish decay. As the sap is free, however, all the organisms within the fig will have an opportunity to grow, being limited only by the concentration of sugars in the sap. The ripening process in the case of grapes, peaches, and oranges does not represent the end of the life processes of these fruits for they respire and continue as living tissue long after they are ripe. The ripening of the fig on the other hand is almost coincident with the death of the tissue. As long as the cells are living they can secure water from the tree to replace that lost by evaporation. The moment certain cells die and disintegrate they can no longer imbibe water from the tree; and the densityof their sap will depend on the sugar content at death and the evaporation rate after death. • We have come to the conclusion that the term "souring" is a very unfortunate and misleading term. A dried fig is one which is preserved by x the density of its own juice. A sour fig is one which has suffered decayon account of lack of juice density. As there are v*t\ny different kinds of
            rots in apples and other fruits, so there are many kinds of decay in figs.
            1 each with a characteristic appearance, odor and taste. There are molds, mildews, and smuts of various kinds the growth of each of which is limited by a different density point of the juice. With a very thin juice we find a number of them -working together; as evaporation concentrates the juice the ' growth of one after another is stopped. Wild yeast appears to be able to grow on a very dense medium and being one of the last to stop growth is largely responsible for souring. We have found yeast in what appear to be perfectly sound figs; and are of the opinion that it may clarify the situation somewhat if we consider all Smyrna figs as potential sour figs and recognize the best grades of packed figs as those in which progress of "souring" was stopped ve,ry soon after it began. The successful curing of Smyrna figs will depend, therefore, on the density of the sap when released from the cells and the speed with which the water is removed by evaporation. The first factor is dependent upon the relation between available soil water and the transpiration from the leaves. The second factor depends upon evaporating power of the air. -x'■'.-'■ Dry, Warm Air Reduces. Souring. The fact that these different factors ■ cannot be separated and studied one at a time renders the present problem extremely difficult. For example, our investigation shows that high total
            evaporation is correlated with few. sours, yet the station which showed the highest evaporation was second in percentage of sound figs, because it had the-heaviest soil of all. A study of our charts indicates that the greatest percentage of sound figs correlated with low humidity and high heat, particularly at night. The Merced station was particularly f favored by a warm, dry breeze during the night. The Reedley station is on the edge of a high bluff overlooking the river. The humidity record at night showed great fluctuations indicating frequent zephyrs of damp air from across the lowlands. - Figs Irrigated Too Much. > Our observation lead us to conclude that as a general thing there is too much irrigation of figs. * Of course, where the nights are' sufficiently cool and damp, the figs may sour anyhow; but many more will sour if there is soil moisture. Peach growers are likely to irrigate canning peaches just before ripening in order to increase the size. This is fatal to figs. The size of dried figs should be increased by fertilizers and other forms of plant food, not by irrigation. The marked effect of added plant food on the size of figs was well illustrated at the place of H. L. Brown of Stanislaus county. Mr. Brown fertilizes generously with chicken manure, practises constant cultivation," severe pruning, and does not irrigate at all. His figs were the - largest we I saw anywhere. His constant cultivation conserved the moisture so that with a- moisture equivalent of 7.80 ;he had on August 10th, 4.3 per cent of moisture at two feet and 8.2 per cent at 6 feet. This amount of moisture together with the humidity resulted in souring so that the crop of very large figs was marketed green, and this with no irrigation. It is evident that the winter and early spring is the best time to I irrigate . figs if 4 they, need irrigation. I As a rule, manure and cultivation are much better than irrgation. "
            newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA

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            • #8
              I don't have much to go on but I haven't had any splitting on the 3 unknowns that appear to be mt Etna types.

              Growing in 5 gallon sips.

              Day time temps in the 70s, night time in the 40s-60s.

              Not much rain but a lot of morning dew.

              No apparent swd although I do have them I my cherry tomatoes and strawberries 10 meters away.
              Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Zaffiro, Moro de Caneva, Nerucciolo d'Elba, Bordissot Blanca Negra, Rubado, Black Celeste

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              • #9
                I'm in the same situation here in RI. Rafael mentions the poor weather and that's exactly when things went down hill for me. All of my trees are in the high tunnel / greenhouse in containers, and were doing great. Then after the weather change, fruit flies galore and 95% of all the figs were splitting wide open. Some ripe, some not fully ripe. JH, VdB, Marseille Black, Bryant Dark to name a few. All had plenty of nice juicy figs prior to the abrupt weather change, and then in a matter of a few days all went to hell.
                Rhode Island - Zone 7A

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                • #10
                  RIMike, what have been your day and night temps?
                  newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA

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                  • #11
                    Most of my figs have split badly since the rain. Most still are. The only two that did not are Malta Black and an unknown that is probably a Celeste that appears to be of an everbearing nature. I am still picking off of these two varieties. They both have closed eyes. SWD flies seem to prefer my RdB's, which are still splitting. Fire ants are a problem with LSU IC, which have stopped splitting and harvesting has resumed.
                    PPP
                    Eatonton, GA zone 7b/8a

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                    • #12
                      Temps have been down to the mid 50's at night. During the day, depending on how much cloud cover and full sun exposure, the greenhouse can climb up to over 90. I took the shade cloth off recently as the angle of the sun is changing and I'd like to extend the growing season as much as possible. The more sun the better.
                      Rhode Island - Zone 7A

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                      • #13
                        I should mention that The sturdier figs that did not split were Strawberry Verte, Green Ischia and Nero 600m and Negronne. RdB, Preto, CdD (some, not all), Adriatic JH, Planera, Panachee, White Genoa and Paradiso Gene all had splitting issues. Many others were fully picked by the time the rains came on 10/1.
                        Rafael
                        Zone 10b, Miami, FL

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                        • #14
                          its been very dry and very warm here to Mike and getting lots of figs splitting ..........
                          Brian
                          Chackbay LA Zone 9A

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                          • #15
                            Brian, that is interesting with out rain. Has your humidity been high as usual?
                            newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA

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                            • #16
                              About half of my Lsu purples are splitting, which is unusual.
                              Ryan- CenLa, zone 8a/b

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                              • #17
                                I thought I was about to taste my first I-258 because it started to turn colors and this morning I noticed it is split wide open! Oh well maybe next year, lol.
                                Ryan- CenLa, zone 8a/b

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                                • newnandawg
                                  newnandawg commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  Hate to hear that. It is a really good one.

                                • quackmaster
                                  quackmaster commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  I'll get over it mike, there is one more on the tree but I'm not getting my hopes up. It hasn't been in the ground very long, by next year it will be more established.

                              • #18
                                Originally posted by quackmaster View Post
                                About half of my Lsu purples are splitting, which is unusual.
                                I picked a tasty LSU Purple 10-14 which surprised me since the weather is cool and NE GA had a lot of rain the last 2 weeks.A few HC ripened that were ok,but no where near as good when the temps are 80-90F. Should be a couple of ripe Brooklyn Dark figs in a few days.
                                The figs above are planted in ground...
                                You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 2 photos.
                                Barry
                                NE GA ,Zone 7b Low Temperature of 4F in 2015,17F in 2016,17F in 2017,6F in 2018,17F in 2019

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                                • #19
                                  Barry, how is the splitting and SWD up there?
                                  newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA

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                                  • #20
                                    I picked a Brooklyn Dark on 10-15 that was starting to split, otherwise I would have left it to ripen a couple more days.
                                    I picked a LSU Purple that wasn't splitting,but a bird had pecked one side.

                                    Last week when I was getting excessive rain from the hurricane,I had a ripening Petite Aubique split into 3 petals like a banana peel.I am pretty sure that I discarded several ripening HC and MBVS that split when I was getting 2" rainstorms.

                                    I probably have the SWD,but I haven't been looking close enough at the flies to positively identify them. I do get larva in rotten or spoiled figs,but I try to remove any figs daily that have been pecked on by birds or chewed on by wasps,hornets, and yellow jackets.

                                    Birds have been my major problem with ripening figs in August and September.
                                    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 2 photos.
                                    Barry
                                    NE GA ,Zone 7b Low Temperature of 4F in 2015,17F in 2016,17F in 2017,6F in 2018,17F in 2019

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                                    • #21
                                      I have pretty much given up on the season here, but I looked around yesterday and I see a lot of split figs. I haven't really watered in days and we had some rain a week ago. It's a lot cooler now. I have the SWD I'm pretty sure. My figs are swarmed by some sort of flys.

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                                      • #22
                                        Ditto here, Mike. Worst year ever for splitting and rotting.
                                        Frank Tallahasee 8B
                                        North Florida Figs

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