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  • Optimizing yield and fruit size of figs

    I found an interesting article about optimizing the yield with respect to pruning:

    South African researchers published a new study that provides valuable information for fig growers. The scientists evaluated the number of fruit, budbreak, and shoot growth on 1-year-old shoots for three common fig cultivars; results revealed pruning strategies that ensure a balance between current-season yield and development of new fruiting wood. The study proves that a wide range of shoot lengths is productive and presents data to help growers achieve consistently high yields.

    If you click on the link at the bottom, and then click onto the Full article on the top right side, you would access the paper itself.

    The research, conducted as part of Gerber's MScAgric degree requirements, was developed to establish the optimum 1-year-old shoot length to maximize fig fruit yield and quality.

    For a few years I was following the Herman's suggestion to pinch after 5-6 leaves for all the varieties. While it is a great general way for the colder climates, it seems the paper's results state that we should approach different varieties differently.

    Anybody had looked into this?
    I am curious about your feedback.
    Last edited by greenfig; 02-18-2015, 03:09 AM.
    USDA z 10a, SoCal. WL: Boysenberry Blush

  • #2
    I checked the references from that paper and one caught my eye:

    The authors tested the VdB/Larga de Burdeos, Kadota, and Brunswick/Kennedy fig productivity in Chile in different locations (i.e. hot and sunny CA vs. less favorable conditions for us in the US). The results of this study clearly demonstrate the strong effect of the climate on fresh fig production.

    “.. Despite the fact that the distance between each locality is less than 66 Km (straight line), El Palqui, further away from the coastal influence, in an interior valley, shows better conditions for fig production in agreement with several authors who indicate that figs grow best under intense solar radiance, high summer temperatures, moderate winters and low relative humidity.Almost all the vegetative and productive parameters evaluated showed significant differences between the trial at El Palqui (with higher temperatures and higher solar radiation), and the other two sites. In cvs. Kadota and Kennedy, the difference in fruit weight per plant was more than 10 times higher, while cv.Larga de Burdeos, though also more productive at El Palqui, showed somewhat less climatic effect. For fruit weight, cv. Kadota had an increase of 71,3% and 85,4% when compared to the fruit of the same cv. collected at Cerrillos de Tamaya and Las Cardas, respectively. “

    So, basically, we need to choose the wish list figs quite carefully, depending on the conditions first of all (not the overhyped figs and pretty photos)
    This has been said many-many times and confirmed by the seasoned fig growers, I am not rediscovering the wheel here. It was just interesting to see the test results.
    USDA z 10a, SoCal. WL: Boysenberry Blush


    • #3
      Thanks for sharing this info...
      The years of anecdotal info from fig forum members can be validated by those documents...
      Pruning and increased Sun / Heat will produce better figs.
      Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b


      • #4
        Here in the SF Bay Area, summer days often start out with fog that often lasts until around 10 AM. A couple of years ago, that fog persisted almost all day, lasting until early afternoon, then returning a couple of hours later. All of the edibles had an awful year. Last year was a good one. Climate (Sun/heat) matters more than anything, but a well-pruned tree will definitely produce better than one that is not cared for.
        USDA Zone 9b Wish list: Abruzzi, Pasquale, Filacciano, Tagliacozzo, Zingarella, Godfather. Any, including unknowns, from Abruzzo, Italy.


        • #5
          Don't know about maximizing size of the fruit but as far as maximizing yield, aka productivity, I'm struck by the potential productivity and the actual productivity I've experienced in a few simple groupings of fig types:
          1. Mongibellos
          2. LSUs
          3. Bordeauxs
          4. Malta Black

          1. the Mongibello / Mount Etna strains -- aka Marseilles Black, Gino's Black, Takoma Violet, and on and on. These are hardy, robust, early ripening, productive fig trees. Hardy Chicago is of this type though my particular Hardy Chicago trees have not been much productive.

          2. the LSU cultivars -- especially Improved Celeste and LSU Purple. These two LSU cultivars practically throw figs at you. I suspect I'll experience soon other LSU cultivars doing something similar.

          3. the Bordeaux cultivars -- Ronde de Bordeaux, Violette de Bordeaux, Rouge de Bordeaux (aka Pastiliere) (also, Vista, Negronne, Petite Negri). I have the least experience with this grouping except for Violette de Bordeaux, which produced many beautiful dark figs that were slow and late to ripe if they ripened at all. However, both Ronde de Bordeaux and Rouge de Bordeaux (aka Pastiliere) are widely known to be early and/or bountiful in ripening fruit, which I'll be able to watch for closely this year.

          4 Malta Black -- an easy growing, early ripening, productive cultivar of exceptional taste, kind of a razor sharp extra sweet layer in the taste. Larger in size than the Mongibellos, in my experience.

          5 others -- I have high hopes and/or expectations too for more than a few other cultivars (Florea, Nero 600m not least, and good breba producing cultivars) and maybe other groupings as being exceptionally productive and high quality in flavor, but will need more firsthand experience.

          Note: all the above are dark figs. I have no doubt that there are some very productive cultivars that are light skinned and great tasting, especially among the light skinned LSU cultivars. I would expect great things of Champagne / Golden Celeste and LSU Gold, for example. Conadria is productive but not great tasting in my experience thus far, at least not reliably so. And of course in warmer climates than my zone 6, many light cultivars and groupings are enormously productive and incredible tasting. Here in zone 6 I've found them to have super flavor but low productivity and to be late to ripen, at least so far with young trees.

          Many people will have widely different success with many different cultivars depending on endless variables, but in most places and not least in northern growing areas, you could do much worse than look first to the Mongibellos, the LSUs, the Bordeauxs, and Malta Black.
          Some of the various strains of the Mount Etna / Mongibello cultivar of figs: Takoma Violet, Dark Portuguese, Marseilles Black, Sal's EL/GS, Salem Dark, Black Bethlehem, Gino's, Unknown #11, Jersey Fig, Martini, Don Fortissi Black, Hardy Chicago, Keddie, Hardy Pittsburgh, Hardy Hartford, Mount Etna Unknown, GM #11 (Sicilian Dark), Abba, NJ Red, San Donato (Calabria), Dominick's, Macool?, Bari?, Rosetta?, Owensboro?,…
          Tony WV 6b


          • zone5figger
            zone5figger commented
            Editing a comment
            Helpful info for northerners on cultivar selection and productivity, thanks Tony.

          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Maximize the fruit size by reducing the quantity of developing fruit (pinch them)...
            Maximize productivity by pruning to maximize fruiting branches, reducing vegetative grown and non fruiting bare wood.

        • #6
          Pinch and prune - excellent points, Pete. And I would add, begin with the most robust (early ripening and productive) cultivars for your growing zone and situation.
          Tony WV 6b


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, that's where the earlier ripening cultivars shine...