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  • Desert King

    Desert King! As always, please share pictures and experiences here and on the varieties thread.

    Desert King is a seedling found in Madera, California 1920 (1930?). Sometimes called simply King or White King.

    Probably the most popular San Pedro fig grown in the US, it grows very well in the Pacific Northwest. It also does well in containers in the East. Trees are vigorous and may need pinching to promote branching for better fruit production. Breba buds are not very hardy, but the plants are fairly hardy. A large specimen is grown in ground by Adriano in Canada with heavy winter protection. Plants will regrow from roots if killed by freeze

    Ripens early for a San Pedro, July. The fruits are large, green, with strawberry colored flesh. Flavor is very sweet and fruity. The occasional main crop fig may ripen without pollination, but this is uncommon. Even with pollination the main crop relatively small. There are several anecdotal reports that in can take several years for trees to get productive.

    Since this is a San Pedro type, they must be pruned to leave old wood. It has been stated that removing the main crop figs will inhibit development of brebas the following year.

    There has been discussion as to whether or not Ghosh (Kala Heera) is the same as Desert King. At the very least, they are very similar.

    I'll be trialing this variety along with several other San Pedro types to find what is the best breba producer for me.
    https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
    SE PA
    Zone 6

  • #2
    I have a small one Kelby, four scrawny branches, I will be giving it a head start in the greenhouse as of tomorrow, let's see if I can put some girth and length into those skinny branches. If I am lucky, maybe I will get a breba or a few this year!
    Rafael
    Zone 7b, Queens, New York

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    • #3
      Let's watch a wonderful video on desert king pruning

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB0D_tuKgtQ
      Shailesh, Pennsylvania, ZONE 6B

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      • drphil69
        drphil69 commented
        Editing a comment
        Great video, that is a beautiful tree.

    • #4
      There is a fig passed around to many growers from a F4F member named Grasa that originated from her boss, he called it "Adriatic" but several people have ID'ed it as Desert King
      Ed
      SW PA zone 6a

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      • #5
        Grasa's tree is avery vigorous grower. Looks similar to a DK.
        Btw, anybody knows what happened to Grasa? She just disappeared one day
        USDA z 10a, SoCal. WL: De la Roca, Lampeira Prush, Raspberry Tart, Boysenberry Blush

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        • TahomaGuy2
          TahomaGuy2 commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes. She just quit posting on F4F...ABRUPTLY!?! I learned so-o-o much from a hardcore Seattle area figster. Glad I had the opportunity to meet her in person at a fig addict meeting.
          Will always remember her as a generous person who got dozens of people hooked.

        • greenfig
          greenfig commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks for an update. Old thread but still alive !

      • #6
        These photos are of a friend's 50 year old Desert King in Occidental, CA. Taken July 5, 2014. A wonderful fig, IMO. Click image for larger version

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        Gary USDA 9A
        Sebastopol, CA

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        • #7
          Gary,
          Are those figs breba or a main crop? Is there any difference in quality ?
          USDA z 10a, SoCal. WL: De la Roca, Lampeira Prush, Raspberry Tart, Boysenberry Blush

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          • #8
            Gary that is one massive tree. Only in Cali!
            Rafael
            Zone 7b, Queens, New York

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            • #9
              Igor, those are breba. The owner says he usually gets a few main crop, but they are not as good. One year he got a 3rd crop. There are no wasps in his neighborhood.

              Hi Rafael, there are a lot of fig trees this big around here. Mostly Mission and Kadotas. Not nearly as many as in SoCal or Central Valley, though.
              Gary USDA 9A
              Sebastopol, CA

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              • #10
                I got a new desert king now it is over 7 feet and with tons of fruits on new branches - Clearly a main crop, now do these need pollination ? The fruits are getting pretty big but not sure if they will end tasting well

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                • TahomaGuy2
                  TahomaGuy2 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yes. Where do you live? Best advice at this time: don't prune the current shoots or you'll get no breba figs come July-Aug.

              • #11
                Yes Roleg, Desert King main crop and the main crop of all San Pedro figs (like Grantham's Royal, Lampeira Preta, San Miro Piro) need to be caprified (pollinated) by the Fig Wasp. Without the wasp the main crop's taste is poor.
                K2 in Seattle

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                • #12
                  Thx guys- I live in San Diego . Perhaps I should get me a caprifig

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                  • #13
                    i have a desert king i planted 45 years back the trunk is bigger then a 5 gallon bucket it hasent been taken care of but still produces lots of figs

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                    • #14
                      BlueEagle1967 Says DK is worthless in PA. Those living in the PNW have great results with it. Who else has success with DK breba? What areas of the country?
                      1st year newbie --- [My Figs] --- Eastern Missouri --- Zone 6 --- Wish List: a greenhouse, a pallet rack, and a pallet lift

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                      • BlueEagle1967
                        BlueEagle1967 commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Main crop won't ripen here Dave and I have yet to eat a fig from this tree. Even if you get breba and you take them out of the garage in the Spring, the first sign of frost will do them in.

                      • davej
                        davej commented
                        Editing a comment
                        BlueEagle1967 Yep everyone has to accept that there will be no main crop -- but they are supposed to produce a large early breba crop.

                    • #15
                      Does the old wood only produce breba for the following year or will the same wood produce breba for the next several years?
                      Wish list: Bordisotte Negra Rimada

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                      • DerekWatts
                        DerekWatts commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Old wood only produces breba the following spring. It sure would be nice if it worked the other way, though.

                    • #16
                      In the experience of some growers, you can grow them in the North East if you keep them in storage, leafed out or not, till all frost danger is past. Avoid all temps under 40 F
                      Ed
                      SW PA zone 6a

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                      • #17
                        Originally posted by eboone View Post
                        In the experience of some growers, you can grow them in the North East if you keep them in storage, leafed out or not, till all frost danger is past. Avoid all temps under 40 F
                        I'm probably one of the growers Ed is citing. He's right, with a caveat -- I'd avoid all temperatures below 50 F. Ideally you would store the tree in a cool, dark spot so it doesn't grow too much beforehand. I use a detached garage that miraculously never gets below 20 F in winter. Trees stay dormant a little longer.

                        Here, I can typically count on temperatures >50 F by mid-May. That's only 2 weeks after I'd normally take common figs out of storage. That was true here this year even though we got a frost on May 9-10th. Brebas were ripe by late July.
                        Joe, Z6B, RI. Taking COVID-19 seriously. Wish list is empty, thanks to forum friends who have given or promised Teramo Unk, Grantham's Royal, Kesariani, Sao Miguel Roxo, and Campaniere. But then Tony says I should also try Planera!

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                        • eboone
                          eboone commented
                          Editing a comment
                          It worked for me this year but did have about 25-30% of the crop drop prematurely

                      • #18
                        My Desert King was the first fig I bought in the spring of 2018 here in NY 7a Long Island . I didnt know a San Pedro from a Common at the time. Last year late spring I transplanted it to the ground as a test. It has good protection and full sun all day. I have alot of stones at its base. I got to taste 2 brebas which were ok,nothing special. After last winter it had about 50% dieback of the trunks and branches with no protection. .Right now its at least 8ft tall and has many trunks. So I will protect it this winter and next year we will see how many brebas survive or not. And how it tastes at 4 years old.

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                        • #19
                          Originally posted by jrdewhirst View Post

                          I'm probably one of the growers Ed is citing. He's right, with a caveat -- I'd avoid all temperatures below 50 F. Ideally you would store the tree in a cool, dark spot so it doesn't grow too much beforehand. I use a detached garage that miraculously never gets below 20 F in winter. Trees stay dormant a little longer.

                          Here, I can typically count on temperatures >50 F by mid-May. That's only 2 weeks after I'd normally take common figs out of storage. That was true here this year even though we got a frost on May 9-10th. Brebas were ripe by late July.
                          How many brebas did you get Joe?

                          You're a champ buddy because it's extra work but the payoff is brebas early in the season. I've never had a breba from my DK although they were on the tree when I took them out of storage. I never shuffled and it's not in the cards. When the trees are out, they're out. They all took a beating this year in May with the late frost(s) but the trees I expected to ripen did so, albeit a couple of weeks later than last.

                          Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania / Zone 6b

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                          • jrdewhirst
                            jrdewhirst commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Roughly 100. Some of that crop was damaged just before harvest, probably by temperatures approaching 100 F in late July. But there was absolutely zero fruit drop. I lost a few fruits moving the big tree out of storage but none to weather.

                            In the prior 2 years, one big potted tree gave me 125-185. I posted a bunch of pictures 2 years ago. I had pruned it pretty hard last year, which I think accounts for the lower numbers this year. Smaller trees have given 20-40 but were at the lowest end of that range this year.

                            Now that I've figured out how to keep brebas on the trees, my biggest issue is how to keep the crop sustainable without letting the tree get too big. So I prune after harvest, then water and fertilize heavily.

                            p.s. I think the variety likes a lot of water. Consider how well it does outdoors in the PNW.
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