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  • Caprifigs outside of the perfect climate. How to?

    So I started thinking today(Shocker!), maybe I possibly could pull off keeping a caprifig. I have a sunroom it can stay in most of the winter, and I can take it inside on the coldest nights.
    But what really do they need? Is it just a place which is warm enough that the dormant figs don't freeze? Or is there some threshold like 50 degrees F.
    Will one caprifig do it for most varieties that grow in short season climate, or does a person need some overlapping caprifig varieties?
    I can keep it pruned down so it is relatively small, how many caprifigs need to remain on the tree to keep a small colony of wasps to fertilize the figs of say..oh..20 trees?
    I'm not really sure how the cycle works between the 2 caprifig crops, the common figs, and the San Pedros. What is in the common fig for the wasps, is it a place to stay between cycles of available caprigs? Because the breeding, egg laying, and growing all occur in the caprifigs right?
    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!

  • #2
    I don't have direct experience with caprifigs yet but I have had several wild varieties from CA. They don't seem to like temperatures under 40 for any prolonged or repeated times. Fig wasps will die if the inside of the fig gets below freezing. You'll want the caprifigs to be dormant with your other figs so the wasp release and receptive times are in sync. I want a few caprifigs with different ripening times to give me the longest possible wasp season. That's going to take a lot of trial and error to find. So I want any caprifig anyone's willing to send me I want some persistent caprifigs to breed from but I want as many as possible of all types to try to keep a wasp population going. It should be possible with a heated area to overwinter.

    There are typically plenty of wasps to go around. The wasps don't benefit directly from entering common figs but if they didn't we wouldn't keep them around. Too many wasps entering a fig cause it to burst so again, it's trial and error how close to put the caprifigs and whether you'll need organza bags after the first day or two of wasp release or whatever works.

    Not only that, but there are 3 caprifig crops. I believe the mamme over winters and ripens in Spring, profichi have the pollen and ripen in the early summer, while the mammoni is the bridge between the two, ripening in fall.
    Last edited by Harborseal; 02-27-2015, 06:04 PM.
    Bob C. KC, MO Zone 6a. Wanted: Martineca Rimada, Galicia Negra, Fioroni Ruvo, De La Reina - Pons, Tauro, BFF, Sefrawi, Sbayi, Mavra Sika , Fillaciano Bianco, Corynth, Souadi, Acciano Purple, LSU Tiger, LSU Red, Cajun Gold, BB-10 any great tasting fig

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    • #3

      It sounds like you guys want to colonize the entire US!

      Why don't we invite Francisco?

      And yes, different caprifigs have different timing, same as with the common figs. I can see it around my place in a 1/2 mile radius. Some figs are much larger than the others, regardless they are dark capris or light.
      USDA z 10a, SoCal. WL: De la Roca, Lampeira Prush, Bass’ Favorite Fig, Raspberry Tart, Boysenberry Blush

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      • #4
        Establishing the wasp in a cool area sounds like a lot of effort. Maybe easier to move to where the wasp already lives? Fig breeding sounds fascinating but one might have to quit their day job to do it seriously. But for those of you who are successful I want to hear all about your novel varieties!
        Steve
        D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
        WL: Verdolino, Figue Jaune, Nantes Maroc, Lussheim

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        • #5
          Hi Steve,
          I don't want to breed figs.
          I was just wondering about the possibility of growing one more tree. One more tree that I would keep in container no bigger than 10 gallons, and keep the tree pruned down so it's easily manageable, and when it's big enough to bear figs I get someone to send me some caprifigs with wasps. What are the possibilities that I can keep one more tree that will make all my other figs better? If maintaining the blastophaga takes a good deal of ongoing effort, I don't think I want to do it, but if I can grow the tree, introduce them and they maintain from then, that would be pretty great. If I have the resources to do it at no extra cost, possibly, why not?

          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!

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          • #6
            It seems like a difficult proposition Cal. You want to overwinter a containerized caprifig indoors and maintain a permanent wasp colony therein, which you will introduce to the young tree by importing a single branch of wasp-colonized caprifigs? Has it ever been done? Can wasps survive on a single tree that rotates indoors/outdoors seasonally? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, I say you will be worshipped by fig collectors around the country for pioneering this experiment.
            Rafael
            Zone 7b, Queens, New York

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            • #7
              A lot of us are planning on doing this and have already started the ground work. I will use at least 2 non edible caprifigs plus edible ones but it's entirely plausible with just one.
              Bob C. KC, MO Zone 6a. Wanted: Martineca Rimada, Galicia Negra, Fioroni Ruvo, De La Reina - Pons, Tauro, BFF, Sefrawi, Sbayi, Mavra Sika , Fillaciano Bianco, Corynth, Souadi, Acciano Purple, LSU Tiger, LSU Red, Cajun Gold, BB-10 any great tasting fig

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              • #8
                Grafting a pollinator to the limb of a another variety is not uncommon. One could do this with the caprifig.
                Littleton, CO (zone 5b) - In Containers
                N.E. of Austin, TX (zone 8b)- In Ground.

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                • #9
                  Okay, I didn't read this entire thread but will give my thoughts and experiences. I have a lot of wild caprifigs around my area.

                  I believe in our coldest of winters that some of the mammoni and/or mamme crop will suffer which will reduce the population of wasp eggs that survive and reduce the colony strength. Having said that, in January 2007 we had a low of 20.4F here and something like 36-48 hours below freezing. Obviously, the inside temperature of mamme figs got below 32F as did the wasp eggs. This artic blast was widespread. If such temperatures would kill all wasp eggs we would not have any in the area today, yet that is not the case.

                  Ideally, I think keeping at 32F or above is probably a good idea. However, I don't think that above 45F during winter is beneficial as that might lead to the tree coming out of dormancy and this could disrupt the cycle of caprifig/wasp generations and prevent them from being sustained.

                  There are some caprifigs that produce much more fruit than others and it is my theory that such trees would be more suitable for trying to maintain a colony outside of normal growing areas. Also, some caprifigs ripen at different times in the same climate so it might be helpful to have 2-3 strains to help ensure there is overlapping of crops for when the wasps emerge from one crop so that they have a new place to take up residence.

                  Grafting onto another tree is one option but I believe a larger tree is more likely to sustain the wasp colony. In addition, over-pollination leads to split fruits, etc. so it's better to be able to select the number of profichi that get placed around each tree.

                  This is a topic that is somewhat an obsession of mine and it troubles me that there are still so many mysteries about what takes place. I swear I don't see mammoni until long after the profichi are gone and wonder where the heck the wasps are at during this period. I also usually question about when the mammoni crop drops off and the mamme crop become receptive because it seems for quite some time there are only tiny fruits on the tree (too small to be receptive).

                  Today while pruning the last of some cuttings I noticed a lot of flies of some sort flying around my Flanders tree. I wondered "what the heck...can these somehow be wasps???" I only have one caprifig tree nearby and it does not have wasps emerging from it's 3 mamme fruits. And why would these flies (wasps?) be flying around my Flanders tree when there is nothing there for them to do? Just more unknowns to the already big mystery.
                  My fig photos <> My fig cuttings (starts late January) <> My Youtube Videos

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                  • #10
                    Bob, I thought some people were trying it. I know somebody sent out some caprifig cuttings a month or two ago, the thought that it could possibly work for me didn't occur till just the other day. Are you planning on breeding your figs, or just using the wasp for improved fruit quality?

                    I tried researching the whole question a little more the other day. The question being the wasp life cycle, and what is the motivator to enter all the other figs(besides caprifigs) for the blastophaga. I really didn't come up with much.

                    Bijan- Hey there, how are you doing? If all goes well, I might have an extra figgling or two with your name on them this spring. I haven't really considered grafting a caprifig to my trees. I feel like a read somewhere that they(wasps) need to be kept a bit warmer during dormancy than my garage could provide, that's why I thought keeping one small caprifig would be the way to go. Making it easier to move in and out of the sunroom. My fruiting trees get pretty big pots, eventually.

                    I'm getting side tracked here. The plants that I keep/winter inside my sunroom(flowers being the exception) tend to go mostly dormant by December; they drop most to all of their leaves(except Bay) and maybe grow a few new small leaves, but for most part are inactive until about mid March. That is why, for me, it seems that fig dormancy is related at least in some part to daylight length in addition to temperature. It gets warm and toasty in the sun room on any given sunny winter day. Time to get back on track, and that is..I think this sun room environment may be similar to something like a cooler than average winter experience for someplace like California. I was going to say something else..wife started talking to me and I forgot..dang-it.
                    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!

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for that Harvey! That is really useful information.

                      Maybe if the caprifig starts to look like it is getting active I could rotate it to the garage for a cool down for a day or five.
                      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


                      • #12
                        Oh, one more thing, I think in urban settings folks might also stretch out the flight periods with the same variety of caprifig by growing
                        a couple of trees on different sides of their homes, etc.
                        My fig photos <> My fig cuttings (starts late January) <> My Youtube Videos

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                        • #13
                          I'm getting all of the persistent capifigs I can and I already have a few Gillete. I will attempt breeding as soon as I get a profichi.
                          Bob C. KC, MO Zone 6a. Wanted: Martineca Rimada, Galicia Negra, Fioroni Ruvo, De La Reina - Pons, Tauro, BFF, Sefrawi, Sbayi, Mavra Sika , Fillaciano Bianco, Corynth, Souadi, Acciano Purple, LSU Tiger, LSU Red, Cajun Gold, BB-10 any great tasting fig

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