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  • Snowpiercer Figs

    Around here the "hot" figs will be those that punch up best from the cold. Photos yesterday and today: Click image for larger version

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    Top in-ground trials this year are a mix of the ones I'm most expectant toward or curious about - latter 12 are Mt Etna types, at least mainly, some currently disputed. Looking for the most robust figs - early, productive, hardy. (Though on the list, Kathleen's Black, Fico Preto, and Black Madeira, I don't expect much of their coming back from the ground. Curiosity caused me to put them in good spots so might be interesting to see.) TOP IN-GROUND TRIALS, 2015:
    1. Ronde de Bordeaux
    2. Florea
    3. Nero 600m
    4. Pastiliere
    5. Malta Black
    6. Improved Celeste
    7. Kathleen's Black
    8. Celeste PP
    9. Black Greek
    10. Fico Preto
    11. Black Madeira
    12. Binello
    13. Mount Etna Unknown
    14. Takoma Violet
    15. Marseilles Black
    16. Gino's Black
    17. Keddie
    18. Maryland Berry
    19. Dark Portuguese
    20. Salem Dark
    21. Black Bethlehem
    22. Natalina
    23. Hardy Chicago
    24. Sal's GS
    Last edited by mountainfigs; 03-06-2015, 03:58 PM. Reason: Shortcut upload didn't work for all, so re-uploaded pics.
    Tony WV 6b

  • #2
    I'm gonna assume that #10 and #11 will be dead figs after a winter like we just had. Were they 1y olds when planted last year?
    SW PA zone 6a


    • mountainfigs
      mountainfigs commented
      Editing a comment
      I expect them to pull through since I've never lost any fig cultivar over winter. Never had any above ground wood survive but everything seems to come back from the roots, that is, the below ground wood. The BM and FP were rooted cuttings that I put in ground last spring and that grew a lot of wood that I cut to ground level in fall and mulched over. (Made "ground-layers" of the biggest limbs that I potted up as trees and stored in garage.) I leave only very little fig wood exposed to air during winter. Last year no such wood made it. Would be surprised if any made it this year due to repeated sub-zero temps. One Brown Turkey has been completely top killed. Am still holding out the smallest of hope for the air-exposed wood of a Celeste, a Hardy Chicago, and a few other sacrificial offerings.

  • #3
    Pictures aren't working?

    Good luck! You seem to be missing light figs (except Binello), though.

    I've a couple of those in ground here, expect to add more this spring.
    SE PA
    Zone 6


    • mountainfigs
      mountainfigs commented
      Editing a comment
      Pics should show now.

    • mountainfigs
      mountainfigs commented
      Editing a comment
      As for light figs ... I might have an Adriatic JH that I left in ground, might not. Can't remember if I dug it up and stored in garage. Was in a decent spot but a little crowded by others. If not, I'll get one in ground eventually and look forward to how it does. I do have some light figs beside Binello still in ground and maybe they will produce early enough to ripen this year, being older, but I doubt it mainly. Banana came close to ripening last summer from in ground, while Mary Lane and LSU Gold did not. Italian Honey did not. Lemon did not. Verte did not. White Marseilles did not. Kadota did not. Binello did but only a few; it pushed figs early so that I thought I would get a bunch but apparently needs more sunlight than I could give it. Still, at least it ripened a few, the only light fig to do so here so far. LSU Gold might if I would put it in a sunnier spot. As for dark figs, most of the Mount Etnas ripened fruit. RDB, Florea, and Nero 600m are new to the ground this past year and I expect them to ripen fruit, along with hopefully others.

    • Kelby
      Kelby commented
      Editing a comment
      Good info. I have wondered about the lack of early, hardy light varieties.

  • #4
    Good luck! If I had to guess I might think that was Canada. Even though we are much warmer than you here in Carolina, I will be looking forward to the results. I want trees that can take the cold without flinching much.
    Coastal NC, humid 8A


    • mountainfigs
      mountainfigs commented
      Editing a comment
      Would love to see the temps of Vancouver around here! but I know what you mean. Am trialing figs at elevation in northern Pennsylvania too, which might also be considered virtual "Canadian" trials.

  • #5
    I am having trouble following this thread. Are you saying that your listed varieties are your highest hopes, or that you have had success with these in the past?


    • #6
      Mix of both, highest hopes and past success. Of the latter 12 on the list, Mt Etna types, most have proven themselves, many fruiting as one year old bushes after last winter's die-back to ground, after being planted as rooted cuttings.

      Binello, the one light fig, also fruited as a one year bush after dying back to ground after I planted it as a rooted cutting.

      Improved Celeste and Celeste PP did well, fruiting after die-back to ground.

      Malta Black fruited well though was planted in-ground in summer so did not get the winter's test. I expect it will do well this year after ground die-back, and I expect the same of Florea, Nero 600m, and Ronde de Bordeaux, and possibly Pastiliere and Black Greek - all first planted last summer as rooted cuttings.

      The few others on the list are in good locations but planted more as a curiosity. Will see what happens.

      Cultivars that have proven themselves to me as productive and robust while young whether in pots or after die-back are, especially: Improved Celeste and the best of the Mount Etna strains. I expect these top 2 cultivars to be joined by Ronde de Bordeaux and Florea this spring and probably Malta Black. As mentioned, Binello and Celeste PP also ripened fruit after die-back last year though not as productively as Improved Celeste and the Mount Etnas but they may come on moreseo this year.

      Given that I have these particular cultivars in ground in good locations (along with many other cultivars that have not been so successful), until I can get some other promising in-ground trials going, I expect to have far and away the best success with these cultivars as I've detailed them here. This summer should tell a lot more along these lines.

      If I had to guess, based on this experience and on research, I would guess that among the most productive cultivars around here for the long haul might prove to be:

      The Mount Etnas
      Ronde de Bordeaux
      Improved Celeste
      Malta Black

      and maybe:

      Nero 600m
      Celeste PP

      Some guesswork there though, especially with Pastiliere. I'm sure the list will change somewhat, new cultivars added, some subtracted and/or elevated or demoted. Talking about main crop here, not breba.

      I ploughed some of this ground a few weeks ago on greenfig's thread about optimizing yield and fruit size. I'll drop in here some of what I wrote there, which reframes the matter:
      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.
      I'll add now what I had overlooked earlier that Nero 600m seems to be a Bordeaux type as well, since it has somewhat similar fruit and leaf shape. So throw in Florea and you've got five great types of robust, early ripening, hardy figs, call them snowpiercers: Mount Etnas, LSUs, Bordeauxs, Malta Black, Florea. At this point, I have to expect those to be the 5 mainstays for producing main crop figs in a cold climate.
      Tony WV 6b


      • #7
        You might also want to consider Salem Dark. I don't know how it bounces back after a bad winter but I do know that if you get a cool summer Salem Dark and Hardy Chicago produce figs that taste much better than Malta Black and VdB.
        Bob C.
        Kansas City, MO Z6


        • mountainfigs
          mountainfigs commented
          Editing a comment
          Salem Dark is on the list above. As far as I can tell it's a Mt Etna, looks and tastes like a Mt Etna. In my experience it's easily one of the most vigorous Mt Etna strains, maybe too vigorous because I've haven't gotten a lot of Salem Dark fruit, as compared to limb. VdB may need more heat/sun than I can give it in this cold climate to ripen to great taste, at least that's my experience so far. Malta Black and the Mt Etnas I consider to have more or less equally great taste, though different. Personally I give the edge to the Mt Etnas too. Malta Black to me has a paradoxically thinner but more intense sweet edge, more strawberry sweet as compared to the grape punch fuller flavor of the Mt Etnas. In this cold climate, offer me a Mt Etna, a Celeste, an Improved Celeste, or a Malta Black, let alone a VdB, and I would be tempted by the Malta Black and sometimes take it but more frequently would reach for the Mt Etna. Then the Malta Black, then the Improved Celeste. Others in my family though would make different selections. But don't get me wrong, I think all three of those figs are spectacular, and I appreciate them all for various different reasons, the taste alone, not to mention their other qualities of growth and foliage. It's funny, the Malta Black can seem the most impressive or explosive at first taste then goes quickly thin, while the Mt Etnas' flavor lingers longer more full. The Improved Celeste seems more akin to the Malta Black but with less (or no) berry flavor. That said, if you get the perfectly ripened fig from almost any cultivar, it can about knock you over.