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  • 2015-2016 Winter Die Back

    This may be of some interest when selecting trees for in ground planting.

    These trees have complete die back to the ground in a winter that saw only
    one day where temps dropped into the upper teens. There were numerous
    days with lows in the 20's. This is unlike the last two winters when we had
    lows in the single digits several times and all 86 in ground trees died back
    to the ground. Most trees recovered and produced some ripe fruit. Unfortunately
    I did not keep records of which did and did not. I will document if the following
    trees produce ripe fruit this year and those that don't will be out of here.

    Large Negronne (been in ground four years)
    Abicou (been in ground three years)
    Nero600m (been in ground three years)
    Longue de Aout (been in ground two years)
    Baskinta Purple (been in ground three years)
    Thibodeaux (been in ground three years)
    Black Ischia (been in ground two years)
    Izbat an Naja (been in ground three years)
    newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA

  • #2
    I'm surprised to see Nero 600M and Longue d'Aout in the list. Thought they were supposed to be a hardier varieties.
    Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Verdolino, Black Celeste, Rubado, Zaffiro, Moro de Caneva, Nerucciolo d'Elba, Bordissot Blanca Negra

    Comment


    • newnandawg
      newnandawg
      Moderator
      newnandawg commented
      Editing a comment
      Don, yes the Nero600m is the biggest surprise of them all. It is also the oldest
      of the trees that died back. I have two in ground and this particular tree is six
      years old. It was in pots for two years and grew really well before going in ground.
      The second tree is an a/l I made from this older tree. It is in ground on the south
      side of my house and does really well there. It is only two years old and shows
      no die back.

  • #3
    That's a nice list of in ground figs! Great to know this.
    Have you ever tried providing them some minimal protection and see how they fare?
    Pino, Niagara, Zone 6, WL; variegated figs, breba producers & suggestions welcome
    Breba photos / Main crop fig photos
    Canada Fig Growers

    Comment


    • newnandawg
      newnandawg
      Moderator
      newnandawg commented
      Editing a comment
      Pino, thank you and those are a few of the 86 total I have in ground. I do provide them
      what I call the very minimal protection which is about 10-12 inches of pine straw built up
      around the trunk/trunks of each tree. Whats interesting is that the ones that did die back
      it is all the way to the ground. The others show no die back at all.

  • #4
    Thanks for the information. Of your trees that did not die back to the ground, which ones appear to have come through in the best shape? The Mt Etnas, I imagine?
    Tony WV 6b
    https://mountainfigs.net/

    Comment


    • newnandawg
      newnandawg
      Moderator
      newnandawg commented
      Editing a comment
      Tony, as I told Pino above, those I listed died all the way to the ground. All the others
      had zero die back which includes Mt Etnas and many others.

  • #5
    Mike, thanks for posting this. I wonder if your trees got hit with weather in teens before they were fully dormant.

    It's really interesting because my results were a bit different. Here, we got down into the low teens on several nights and down to +7 deg. F with strong wind on the coldest night of the year. I have 17 varieties in the ground and they are starting their 3rd or 4th season in the ground. I've been doing some pruning and I'm pretty sure that most of mine only had about 1/2 die back: Adriatic JH, Battaglia Green, Bordisott Blanca, DeLeonibus Black, Filacciano Bianco, Malta Black, MvsB, Nero 600m, Paradiso-Gene, RdB, Sal'sEL, Sicilian Red, Takoma Violet, Vasilika Sika (Belleclare), and Zingarella (RW).

    There are two where die-back was more severe but still probably not all the way to the ground: Kathleen's Black and Socorro Black.

    Our Fall cooled down gradually so by the time the really cold weather hit in January I think they were fully dormant.
    Steve
    D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
    WL: Nantes Maroc

    Comment


    • newnandawg
      newnandawg
      Moderator
      newnandawg commented
      Editing a comment
      Steve, that could very well be the case. We did have some pretty cold weather
      early on. Are any of yours protected at all?

    • Rewton
      Rewton
      Fig Phenom
      Rewton commented
      Editing a comment
      As I mentioned, the only protection was shredded leaf mulch (about 6-12 inches) mounded around the trunks of the trees. We are selling our house this spring and (unless I dig some of them up and bring them to the new place) I won't taste fruit from them again anyway.

    • smithmal
      smithmal
      Senior Member
      smithmal commented
      Editing a comment
      Steve,

      My guess is that you'll be taking cuttings and starting over again? With a "fresh canvas" of new property to put in new in-ground figs into, which varieties are you leaning toward?

  • #6
    Sorry, I overlooked that. Are you staying in MD?
    newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA

    Comment


    • Rewton
      Rewton
      Fig Phenom
      Rewton commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes, we are moving a bit further out of the city but will stay in MD and will have more space to grow stuff! We found a place but it was a challenge to balance the lot/land with the commute and the house. The house will need a little work but nothing too major. I had a job offer in a small city in the midwest but my wife vetoed that move. The bright side of that is that we are in a warmer zone here in MD than we would have been in had we moved to the midwest.

  • #7
    I think I would have made the same decision or maybe even further south. LOL
    newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA

    Comment


    • #8
      Mike,

      I am going to do a similar report a little later, But I am surprised at some I am finding that looks dead to ground and others that fared well. Really think It has more the state and maturity of the wood going into cold. Example my Smith looks like no damage and folks have reported that not hardy. Valle Negra that is supposedly hardy is dead to ground. Smith a tree that put on little growth last year as was likley root bound when planted last year. Valle Negra put on growth but was hardened off when cold came. I am really beginning to wonder if cultivar doesn't have as much to do with hardiness as I have thought in past
      Phil North Georgia Zone 7 Looking for: All of them, and on and on,

      Comment


      • newnandawg
        newnandawg
        Moderator
        newnandawg commented
        Editing a comment
        Phil, I agree with your thinking. My Valle Negra is not listed above bu it has four nice trunks
        and three of them were killed to the ground. The fourth looks to be fine.

        The Nero600m has four large five year old trunks and of them have been killed to the
        ground for the third straight year.

        My Smith is a fifth year tree on the south side of the house and it looks really good and
        already leafing out.

    • #9
      We had a pretty warm winter here but it seems no matter how warm there is always at least one plant that dies over the winter for a reason I have yet to figure out. Last winter it was White Triana but luckily a friend had a spare. This winter the victim was a more painful loss De la Senora, that one stung a bit. I really did not want to have duplicates but I guess on some I will have no choice moving forward.
      Cutting sales at willsfigs.com will continue till about March 1.

      Comment


      • #10
        So, what I'm reading is:

        If you typically provide limited winter protection of your in-grounds and you note that a particular variety is slow to go into dormancy, you should prioritize and/or increase your winter protection for that variety regardless of how "cold hardy" it is thought to be. Does that sound right?
        Malcolm - Carroll County, MD (zone 6b). Interested in cold hardy figs. Currently container growing, MBVS, St. Rita, Olympian, RdB, Beale, Sal's EL, UCD 184-15s and Desert King.

        Comment


        • #11
          Seems once you get to Zone 7 and higher there are many people growing figs in ground.
          At 80+ trees newnandaug seems to have a run away lead for cool climate in ground fig growing!

          I started a similar topic a couple of months ago on F4F includes a summary of the results reported there for in ground figs.

          Attached is the summary so far. Have along way to go to make it a useful reference.

          To simplify and ensure the various flavour profiles are represented I grouped the (30 or so) Mount Etna types together.
          This complete fig family is cold tolerant and ripens quality figs in the target zones but for the most part they have very similar taste profiles and growth characteristics.

          If there is no objection I would like to reference this topic and add the reported results to the summary doc?
          Attached Files
          Last edited by Pino; 03-21-2016, 02:11 PM.
          Pino, Niagara, Zone 6, WL; variegated figs, breba producers & suggestions welcome
          Breba photos / Main crop fig photos
          Canada Fig Growers

          Comment


          • smithmal
            smithmal
            Senior Member
            smithmal commented
            Editing a comment
            Pino,

            Thanks for providing this great write up. I noticed you didn't have Nordland mentioned which is very similar to LdA but ripens later and has larger figs. Also I was surprised to see Black Jack as that is one of the figs my local nursery (in zone 6B) sells and supposedly is hardy to that zone.

          • Pino
            Pino commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks Malcom. It is only a draft list at this time. Hoping to get more people to report on their in ground growing experience and will keep updating.
            Nordland is there in the other candidates row towards the bottom. I have seen it mentioned but no one has reported growing it in ground. Thanks for clarifying that it is a different fig than LdA I always wondered about that. Are you growing it in ground?
            Black Jack was reported no to be cold hardy by snaglpus (NC zone 8).

        • #12
          Newnandawg,

          Thanks for sharing this info...

          Just curious, from the trees listed in the OP, although they are several years old.
          How much of the die-back was wood (stem and branches) more than 1 year old?
          Thanks.
          Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

          Comment


          • newnandawg
            newnandawg
            Moderator
            newnandawg commented
            Editing a comment
            Pete, easy answer. Since all of my in ground trees died back to the
            ground during the winter of 2014-15, all the wood that died back
            this winter is just one year old. The wood on the trees that died
            back in the winter of 2014-15 was mostly 2-3 years old on the
            listed eight trees.

          • AscPete
            AscPete
            Fig Phenom
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Mike,
            Thanks for the reply...
            I thought that would be the answer, the die back was of 1 year old exposed wood.

        • #13
          Speaking of die back, I haven't seen anyone report back how well the "step over espaliers" (SOE) technique is working in regards to die back. I know that both Pete and WillsC are doing this with great success. Pete any reports on die back with your step over laterals since your in zone 6? At what point do you decide to "unearth" your laterals in the spring that are trained to the espaliers? I've been really impressed with what I've seen so far with SOEs. I visited a fig nut late last year and he indicated that he was thinking of using copper pipe loop as the espalier support. Throughout late fall - early spring, he would run hot water into the copper pipes to keep the figs warm. That way he could SOE any variety that he wanted rather than just being limited to cold hardy varieties.

          Is there a SOE main thread on this forum? I've looked but not found one yet.

          Thanks.
          Malcolm - Carroll County, MD (zone 6b). Interested in cold hardy figs. Currently container growing, MBVS, St. Rita, Olympian, RdB, Beale, Sal's EL, UCD 184-15s and Desert King.

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete
            Fig Phenom
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Malcolm,
            The espaliers are uncovered when all danger of frost has passed, usually when the overnight lows are above ~ 45 deg F.
            Although I'm an advocate of step over espaliers, the actual pruning procedure and techniques are what I've been promoting and my current preferred pruned in-ground shape (zone 6) is a low Bush (Tree) form with a single main stem with low and short scaffold branches. The winterized mains and scaffolds have remained undamaged under 6 -12 inches of Pine Shavings of Bark Mulch with minimal work.

          • smithmal
            smithmal
            Senior Member
            smithmal commented
            Editing a comment
            WillsC and Pete,

            Thanks for the feedback. Pete, in terms of your scaffolds, you prune to two nodes each fall and then bury the whole kit and kaboodle under 6-12 inches of pine shavings correct? Do you place a cover over your pine shavings with anything to make sure the mound doesn't shift from strong winds? I'm assuming you wait until mid to late May to uncover correct?

          • AscPete
            AscPete
            Fig Phenom
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Malcolm,
            You're welcome
            Yes, prune, seal the ends with pruning sealer and bury under shavings.
            Its surrounded with hardware cloth but left open to the weather.
            Yes, approx mid May or when the low temperatures remain above 45 deg F.

        • #14
          "I am really beginning to wonder if cultivar doesn't have as much to do with hardiness as I have thought in past."

          That's an interesting observation. I imagine the microclimate around the fig has more to do with cold-damage than we might think. One thing that Gene Hosey observed with his orchard in southern MD was water drainage (or lack thereof) had a major effect on survival. The lower part of his orchard did not drain as well and had quite a bit more damage from the cold.
          Steve
          D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
          WL: Nantes Maroc

          Comment


          • #15
            My I-258 made it in ground in zone 7b and the only protection i gave it was cut it down to 12" and put a blue 5 gallon bucket on top of it.

            Comment


            • #16
              It seems that vulnerability could relate to a number of different traits -- (1) poor resistance to cold when dormant, (2) tendency to not go dormant quickly when cold weather comes, (3) tendency to not stay dormant (i.e., to come out of dormancy quickly) when warm weather comes if only temporarily (e.g., February warming), etc. Depending on its traits, a fig variety might die because (1) the lowest temperatures are really low (this is what USDA zones reflect); (2) the low temperatures randomly hit very early, before the plant is fully dormant; (3) warm weather hits intermittently well before spring, so the plant emerges from dormancy prematurely; and so on.

              Here (Z 6b/7a New England) this recent winter was very warm, with only a few days at typical low temperatures. So, outright cold was not much of an issue. To the contrary, it was generally relatively warm, and some weeks were almost balmy. In these conditions (#3 above), I'd think that the varieties at risk would be those that come out of dormancy quickly. It would have been especially bad for such varieties planted under conditions that would prove beneficial during the summer -- situated on south-facing slopes, mulched with dark materials, etc.

              Does anyone see a correlation between tree damage and traits / conditions corresponding to #2 or #3?

              Anyway, I'm thinking I'd rather see 10 degrees F consistently than frequent oscillation between 20 F and 50 F.

              Joe
              Joe, Z6B, RI.

              Comment


              • #17
                Nero 600n die back doesn't surprise me. Before I had a chance to bring the figs indoors the temps dropped unexpectedly to about 18F in early October. Nero 600 along with VdB (which looks identical to my Nero 600m) both died back to just above the soil line. The Mt Etna's did fine along with several others. I know that the claim is Nero 600m is relatively cold hardly but does any one have any first hand experience or is the claim just based on hear say. If I recall the winter temp history from the location that Nero 600m came from really wasn't that cold.
                John Z5 Wish list:

                Comment


                • #18
                  Ripple, was your 600M dormant before that cold snap hit? If not, my understanding is that regardless of how cold hardy it is, it would suffer significant die back.
                  Malcolm - Carroll County, MD (zone 6b). Interested in cold hardy figs. Currently container growing, MBVS, St. Rita, Olympian, RdB, Beale, Sal's EL, UCD 184-15s and Desert King.

                  Comment


                  • Ripple
                    Ripple commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Malcolm,
                    I agree with your statement about not being dormant makes them more vulnerable to die back. Most of the figs did not have chance to harden off or go dormant prior to the sudden freeze. What I was trying to point out was on a comparative basis of 40+ plants and 25 varieties N600m and VdB had significantly more die back than the others. This is only my observation and for me it cast doubt on the hardiness claims of N600m which appear to be more speculation than real experience.
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