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  • Breba question

    I am a new to growing figs so bare with me. Should a hardy Chicago produce a breba crop? If it does, would they most likely drop off or maybe ripen? This plant is about 3 years old now. Just asking because I have no clue. Thanks everyone for you input.
    SW MO Zone 6a

  • #2
    Hardy Chicago does produce brebas but they have a tendency to fall before they are ripened.
    Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Verdolino, Black Celeste


    • #3
      I'm seeing some brebas on my 2nd year HC now.. I will have to pay close attention to them now that this was mentioned
      My Plant Inventory: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...HZcBjcsxMwQ7iY

      Cuttings Available 2022:


      • #4

        Yes, Hardy Chicago produces a breba crop...

        Hardy Chicago breba ripen ~ 30 days earlier than main crop figs.
        Click image for larger version

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        But to harvest the breba the limbs (with the embryonic figs) have to be kept from temperatures below 30 F. For potted culture balanced nutrients and scheduled watering are required early, during and after bud break. The balanced fertilization for potted figs trees should provide Macro and Micro nutrients including Calcium and Magnesium.
        Good Luck.

        Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b


        • #5
          Thank Don, Jamie, and Pete. These figs are fascinating plants. My sister and I meet for lunch every Wednesday and yesterday I took her a nice 1' start full of nice sized leaves. I was amazed at how many people asked what kind of plant it was and all were shocked that it was a fig tree. Figs are very uncommon around here. Maybe more people will get interested in them.
          SW MO Zone 6a


          • #6
            Is it okay to hijack your own thread with a different question?
            SW MO Zone 6a


            • #7
              I think you just did 😉

              It's your thread so no feelings to hurt.
              Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Verdolino, Black Celeste


              • #8
                Pete --

                Assuming my memory isn't failing me, I've read reports and seen pictures of Desert King grown in ground in Canada. DK is grown for brebas only, not only because the season is short but also because the main crop requires fertilization and there is no fig wasp there. The plants are protected during the winter, most commonly bent to the ground and covered. Even so, I have to believe that temperatures fall below 30F under the protection. Based on what you know, what is the variation around your rule that the breba wood must be protected against temperatures below 30F? Thx.

                Joe, Z6B, RI.


                • Kelby
                  Kelby commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Your talking about Adriano's Desert King. He essentially builds a house around it to protect from freezing.

              • #9
                There are a few reports from the PNW (Pacific North West) of in-ground Desert King fig trees producing breba crops, but those locations have very mild winters with temperatures rarely falling into the teens or even 20's. In other locations the trees are covered and protected from the cold.

                The 30 deg F benchmark is to keep all dormant wood including green branches and brebas alive through the winter. The most quoted and published low temperature is actually 15 deg F.

                Even the touted "Cold Hardy" cultivars like LaRadek BT die back when exposed to temperatures below 30 deg F.
                Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b


                • #10
                  DK in Seattle is the most prolific variety, they grow without protection and produce massive amounts of brebas. In Warmer years like last yr even the main crop ripened. The taste is not as good but it was edible. I think 25-27 degrees would be considered a very cold day here.


                  Ben B.
                  Seattle, WA



                  • #11
                    Pete -- I have only three winters' experience, including the one just past, so I have minimal data. But I have ambitions, and I suppose that really don't want to believe what you are saying. At any rate, my own experience, though limited, seems inconsistent with your 30 deg F guideline. In all three winters, temperatures here dropped to around -5 F (i.e., -3 F to -6 F lows), and there were long stretches under 20 F. Nevertheless, my in-ground Florea, Hardy Chicago, and Paradiso (Gene) survived with minimal damage; and both HC and Paradiso produced brebas. Not a lot of brebas -- for example, last summer, Paradiso had roughly a dozen -- but brebas nonetheless. Yes, I had protected the plants with foil-covered bubble wrap. But they were not buried or mulched, and they were not artificially heated. I haven't measured, so I can't say for sure, but I have to believe that when the air temp outside was below 0 F and the only heat source was the frozen ground, the temperature around the figs (under the protection) had to be well under 20 F. Honestly, if I had to bet, I'd say closer to 10 F. So how did the figs survive? And maybe more to the point of this thread, how did they produce brebas?

                    Kelby -- I'd ask a similar question about Adriano's "house" built around his Desert King. I assume that the house wasn't heated (?). Does an unheated hut stay over 30 deg F all winter in Canada?

                    IMO, there has to be another, more complicated explanation. Protection must do something much more important for figs than merely keep them less cold. And it seems (I hope) that figs can survive and produce brebas at temperatured lower than you suggest.
                    Joe, Z6B, RI.


                    • AscPete
                      AscPete commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Glad to hear that you were able to harvest breba figs even with those low ambient temps.

                      As noted the general recommendation is 15 deg F. My personal rule for the potted trees in storage is 30 deg F. for my in-ground trees I prune back to stubs so I don't worry about a breba harvest, just keeping the mains, scaffolds and fruiting branch stubs protected.

                      Yes, there are several variable that help to keep the in-ground trees warmer than ambient including the temperature of the grounds thermal mass, snow cover, solar heat gain, etc and the wind break (protection) provided by the winter cover.

                  • #12
                    Thanks. It makes a lot of sense to prune to low scaffolds and stubs for main crops only. Over the past two years, I pruned my own plants to this form.

                    So my interest has turned to those other variables you mention. My question would be how cultural practices can increase the odds that a tree survives low ambient temperatures. I'd love it if we could state, based on rigorous observations rather than anecdote, something specific like, "If you cover the tree 1 month before temperatures drop below 30 degrees F and do not remove the covering until temperatures remain consistently above 30 degrees F, and if the covering is opaque so that it blocks winter sun, and if the covering is impervious to winter wind, and if the covering has an insulating value equivalent to a minimum R-Value of whatever, then wood from Variety Q that is more than 3 months old will survive ambient temperatures (outside the protection) as low as X."

                    Maybe I'll start a thread . . . .
                    Joe, Z6B, RI.