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  • Dormancy Questions

    Hi guys...

    Have some questions on dormancy. I'm a complete newbie so I apologize if this has been discussed before. I reviewed the FAQ area and didn't see anything on it.

    Question is... Is dormancy required?

    I just moved and my new house has a greenhouse and an unheated south facing enclosed patio. Both are averaging about 15 degrees warmer than the outside lows. The enclosed patio stays a bit warmer since it faces south, the greenhouse does not. This is my first winter there so I am not sure if this average will get better or worse in the actual cold. Is it possible for my figs to never go dormant if I move them to the patio? If so is it a bad thing? I already moved my figs inside the patio cause I don't know any better. None of them are showing any signs of growing dormant. The coldest its been in there has been high 50s so far.

    My other question is if dormancy is required how stable does my storage temperature have to be? In the sun both the greenhouse and patio get really warm. Sometimes in the 80s. There may be a 30-40 degree temperature swing in there; sunny day vs night. I do have a basement that will stay in the low 50s maybe high 40s but I don't know if that is still too warm for winter storage.

    Edit: Forgot to mention that I have 3 potted plants of unkown variety and my growing zone is 7a.

    Thanks again
    Jose
    Jose in Glen Arm, Maryland.... Zone 7a

  • #2
    If or when they go dormant, the big temp swings are probably not good. Some warm spell in the winter they could start to wake up and then get frosted when the temps drop again. If they wake up early you would do well to keep the temp above freezing with a heater.

    I have heard different opinions on whether they need dormancy. I know some growers have kept figs going in a heated greenhouse all winter successfully. I don't have experience.
    Ed
    SW PA zone 6a

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    • #3
      I was going to ask a similar question. Last year was the first year I had a greenhouse and the coldest temp was about 40*. They all went dormant so I would guess the amount or light has something to do with dormancy. What I wanted to know was should I wait until after a couple of freezes so they will harden off. Will it be better to take cuttings if they are left outside longer or is it the same letting them go dormant in the greenhouse?

      welcome to the forum Glen
      Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana
      Buffalo WV Z6

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      • #4
        Does your greenhouse temp stay stable? I'm curious if they stayed dormant with large temperature swings.
        Jose in Glen Arm, Maryland.... Zone 7a

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        • #5
          There was big temperature fluctuations at times.I heat it and didn't let it get to cold. Everything stayed dormant until early spring.
          Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana
          Buffalo WV Z6

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          • #6
            Thanks for the info Glen. It sounds like my set up will work out well. I have a couple of space heaters with thermostats on them. I can set them to turn on if the temp dips real low. That way I'm not throwing too much money out my window lol
            Jose in Glen Arm, Maryland.... Zone 7a

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            • #7
              Glen, I found a thread/discussion that covered alot of the questions we had.

              http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...rage-and-light


              So from my reading that discussion I don't think I have a decent area for winter storage. My garage is unheated, not insulated, and exposed on three sides. I doubt I can keep the temperature up with a small space heater. My basement is stable but a bit too warm, in the low 50s.
              Last edited by JMS; 10-14-2015, 01:27 PM.
              Jose in Glen Arm, Maryland.... Zone 7a

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              • #8
                JMS, I wouldn't rule out using the garage as winter storage.

                I overwintered my figs in my attached (but uninsulated) garage. I covered up my figs with a tarp and strung incandescent Christmas lights around them. I did have a space heater in the garage for some of those really cold nights. Most of the time, just being in the attached garage was sufficient to keep them above freezing. The tarp served as wind protection since we open the garage door a lot to shuffle the kids in and out of the house. The tarp also trapped some heat from the Christmas lights.
                Johnny
                Stuff I grow: Google Doc

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                • #9
                  Jose,

                  The official stance is that dormancy is required for Ficus carica since they are native to dry temperate Mediterranean zones which are USDA zone 9 or 10 (19*F or 30*F min temperature respectively). The posted "required Chill Hours" are 100 to 300 hours depending on the nursery's published descriptions. At 300 hours that's only 13 days below 40*F. There's much documented info of successful fig (Ficus carica) culture in tropical regions where there are no "winter" dormancy periods.

                  The dormancy ability of ficus carica has been exploited in colder zones to allow them to survive during the inhospitable winter months and produce a harvest. To maintain an uninterrupted, prolonged dormancy period the temperatures have to remain below ~ 40*F. When the temperatures rise and are maintained at or above ~ 45*F the trees will usually break dormancy regardless of the amount of light. The fig trees could also be grown year round in an heated greenhouse, but will be susceptible to cold damage if the heat source fails.

                  A temporary partially insulated storage area could be set up in the unheated garage if space is available. It could be set up like a Grow Tent without lights but with a small heat source to maintain the required cooler temperatures. Good Luck

                  DIY Grow tents...
                  Last edited by AscPete; 10-16-2015, 03:19 PM. Reason: added link to DIY Grow Tents
                  Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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                  • #10
                    I had a young Malta Black that never went dormant in my greenhouse last winter. It grew to over six feet and put on loads of figs this summer. That's the only fig that didn't go dormant. Could have been a fluke.
                    Art
                    Western Pa -6a

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                    • #11
                      Some academic information on dormancy requirements of Ficus carica from, http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/15714/PDF

                      Page 23,
                      When fig grows in hot desert areas, where winter temperature is above 6° to 10°C, leaf defoliation and dormancy are eliminated. In Israel, around the Dead Sea area, where the winter temperatures are 5° to 17°C, 'Brown Turkey' cultivar, grown in nethouses, never defoliates and continues to produce fruit from November to May. The lower winter temperatures between February and mid-March (5°-13°C) slow down fruit maturation at this period, while the rise of temperature at the end of March (10°-22°C) leads to resumed growth and fruit maturation (Flaishman and Al Hadi 2002).

                      Fig tree has limited requirements for chilling units, and the length of the dormant period depends on the local climatic conditions (Erez andShulman 1982).Under hot climatic conditions, in several areas in South America such as Brazil, the tree can continuously grow and be evergreen. In colder weather, however, the tree stops growth, becomes defoliated,develops a typical terminal bud, and enters a dormancy period. Kawa-mata et al. (2002a) estimated the intensity-of bud dormancy in 'Masui Dauphine'. The dormancy of the fig buds was classified into three phases: introductory, deepest, and awaking phases.
                      Page 25,
                      Figs are deciduous subtropical trees whose growth is more limited by winter low temperatures than by summer heat. The typical fig-producing regions are characterized by hot dry summers, low relative humidity, and mild winters. The fig tree has a low chilling requirement. Winter temperatures are a limiting factor particularly with young trees that maybe damaged by frosts at temperatures between -5° and —10°C (Fergusonet al. 1990).
                      Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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                      • #12
                        "...young trees that maybe damaged by frosts at temperatures between -5° and —10°C (Fergusonet al. 1990)."

                        Hmm, is that saying that the green growth won't be harmed until around 23°F? It was my understanding that I wouldn't want them to get below 32°F.

                        Makes me wonder if I should leave my 1 gallon all green baby plants out for the 28 & 30°F days coming up tonight and tomorrow.

                        Only a few leaves are starting to turn colors but almost none have dropped yet.
                        Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Zaffiro, Moro de Caneva, Nerucciolo d'Elba, Bordissot Blanca Negra, Rubado

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                        • AscPete
                          AscPete commented
                          Editing a comment
                          They are referring to 'young' in ground trees growing in a temperate zone, which equates to old trees in most zones

                          It doesn't say 'green growth' and any green growth will be damaged by direct frost.

                        • don_sanders
                          don_sanders commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Thanks for clearing that up. Continuing as originally planned and shuffling tonight and tomorrow.

                        • AscPete
                          AscPete commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Quick summary of the documents info regarding dormancy temperatures, http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...4158#post44158 . IMO, the best winter storage temperature for dormant fig trees is between 32*F and 40*F which will cause the least amount of damage to dormant branches and dormant breba figs.

                      • #13
                        Thanks for all the info! That was very helpful.

                        Jose
                        Jose in Glen Arm, Maryland.... Zone 7a

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