- Fig Fruit Stays Green – Reasons Figs Don’t Ripen
- Reasons Why Figs Won’t Get Ripe
- How to Ripen Figs Faster
- Fruit of the Month: Figs!
- Harvesting And Storing Fresh Figs – When And How To Harvest Figs
- When to Pick Figs
- How to Harvest Figs
- Storing Fresh Figs
- How to Ripen Fruit Faster
- Two seasons of figs
- Get in touch
- The difference in where you buy
- But before you refrigerate them…
- Freezer tip
- What’s your type?
- Figs: Picking Tips, Facts and Recipes: Great things to make from fresh figs
- Common Fig Varieties and Uses
- Frequently Asked Questions About Figs
- Canning books
- The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes Paperback
- Home Canning Kits
Fig Fruit Stays Green – Reasons Figs Don’t Ripen
A common question that gardeners with fig trees have is, “How long does it take a fig to ripen on the tree?” The answer to this question is not straightforward. Under ideal conditions, figs can ripen in as little as two months, but most figs do not grow in ideal conditions. If your fig fruit is staying green, there are many reasons why your figs are not getting ripe. Let’s look at the reasons why figs don’t ripen and how to ripen figs a little faster.
Reasons Why Figs Won’t Get Ripe
The long and short of why a fig tree is taking a long time to ripen its fruit or the figs won’t get ripe at all is stress. Fig trees are very susceptible to stress and when under stress, they will slow down or even stop ripening their fruit.
The most common stress responsible for when figs don’t ripen is lack of water, especially in high heat conditions. Fig trees in containers are especially prone to this. If a fig tree does not have enough water, the figs won’t get ripe because the tree is trying to preserve itself and its seeds. If a fig tree continues to get too little water, it will abort its fruit, which means your fig fruit will fall off the tree while it is still green.
Another possible reason why your figs are not getting ripe is a lack of nutrients. Fruiting is hard work for a tree. It needs extra nutrients to be able to support both itself and its fruit. If the tree has too little nutrients, the figs don’t ripen as fast and may even stop ripening.
If your figs are not getting ripe, pests and disease can also be the problem. While a fig tree is under attack from a pest or disease, it must divert its energy from ripening its fruit to protecting itself. The fig fruit will stay green longer if the fig tree is battling pests and disease.
How to Ripen Figs Faster
The best way in how to ripen figs faster is to remove as many stress points from the tree as possible. To avoid figs that won’t get ripe, make sure that the tree has plenty of water, especially in high heat.
Another way to prevent figs that don’t ripen is to regularly fertilize your fig tree. Keep a sharp eye out for pests and disease as well, and treat these as soon as you spot them.
While there is no set answer to how long does it take a fig to ripen on the tree, you can take steps to make sure your figs ripen as fast as possible.
Fruit of the Month: Figs!
July 31, 2013
Its going to a Figgin’ Fantastic August! We are enjoying the heat and are eagerly waiting for our southland figs to ripen.
Background and History
The fig is native to the Middle East and western Asia, and is one of the oldest know fruit to man. Mention of the fig dates back to 2500 B.C. and can be seen in text written on Sumerian stone tablets. The fig was brought to Mexico in 1560 and established at the San Diego Mission in 1769. By 1867 there were over 1,000 acres of fig trees in the Sacramento Valley and 35 acres in the San Joaquin Valley.
The fig is actually not a fruit, but a hollow-ended stem containing hundreds of inverted flowers. It is referred to as a “false fruit” or “multiple fruit” in which the flowers and seeds grow together. When you cut open a fig, what you are actually seeing are many individual fruits, each bearing a single seed inside.
If the fruit is female, the flowers do not require pollination. However, if the flowers are both male and female, the fruit requires pollination by a specialized wasp. This fertilization process, known as parthencarpy, is when a female wasp enters the fig through the scion and lays eggs in the flowers. The male and female wasps pollinate the flowers, while the fruit provides a safe habitat and nourishment for the eggs and next generation of wasps.
Types and Characteristics
There are hundreds of varieties of figs ranging in color and size. The most common fig varieties in Southern California include the Kadota, Brown Turkey, and Mission figs.
The Kadota fig is a thick-skinned fig that has a few small seeds. You can tell when the Kadota fig is ripe because the “eye” splits and the skin changes from an unripe avocado green to a soft lime green. Since the figs remain green, birds end up ignoring these figs because they assume they are not ripe. The fruit can be eaten fresh or processed.
The Mission fig was named after the California Franciscan missions that have been cultivated since 1770. You can tell when the Mission Fig is ripe because the skin will turn a very dark purple and the skin will begin to crack. When dried, the color darkens to black. The fruit is moist and has a chewy texture. The Mission fig is best eaten fresh, but can also be dried.
The Brown Turkey fig is a hardy tree that produces two crops each year in the summer and spring. The tree can withstand cold temperatures that most fig varieties are unable to take. The figs are a caramel-brown color with pink, reddish flesh. You can tell when the Brown Turkey Fig is ripe because the skin will turn a deep purple and the skin will begin to crack. The fruit is medium to large and the skin is sweet. This fig can be eaten raw or processed.
You can harvest figs by hand or with garden shears. When handpicking, lift the fig in the opposite direction that the fruit is drooping. It is recommended to wear gloves when harvesting figs because of the latex that occurs in unripe fruits. Figs do not ripen off the tree so pick figs when they are the ripest.
Figs do not have a long shelf life and will spoil within 7-10 days after harvesting. After harvesting, wash and dry your fig and immediately store in a plastic bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Figs can also be stored in the freezer whole for 10-12 months.
How to tell when your figs are ripe
Figs are ripe when the fruit is squishy to the touch, the stem snaps off when you pick it from the tree (rather than bending), and the fruit is sweet. The best way to determine if the fruit is overripe is to smell the fig. If the fruit smells sour, it has already begun to ferment. Also, when figs are over ripe, the flesh begins to collapse inward.
Propagating and Care
Fig trees can be propagated through cuttings of mature wood 2-3 years of age. In the fall and after the harvest, make a cutting from a low-growing branch. Plant the branch in soil within 24 hours.
During the growing season, water your figs regularly to encourage more fruit production. Ensure that you are watering evenly because excessive and inconsistent watering leads to splitting fruit. When fall arrives stop watering.
Pruning is optional and is often used to remove dead wood. If pruning, it is best to remove the oldest, largest stems in the spring every other year.
For more information read: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/fig.html
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Harvesting And Storing Fresh Figs – When And How To Harvest Figs
If you are lucky enough to have a fig tree in your landscape, you have access to some wonderfully sweet and nutritious fruit. Fig trees are beautiful deciduous trees that can reach a mature height of up to 50 feet, but typically between 10 and 20 feet, making harvest fairly easy. Harvesting figs in the right manner and at the right time allows you to get the most from your tree.
When to Pick Figs
Wait until the figs are ripe to harvest. Figs will not continue to ripen after they are picked like many other fruits. You can tell that it is time for harvesting figs when the fruit necks wilt and the fruits hang down.
If you pick a fig fruit too early, it will taste horrible; ripe fruit is sweet and delicious. As long as the fruit is still perpendicular to the stem, it is not ready to be picked. A perfectly ripe fig will also emit its nectar at its peak and be soft to touch. It is always better to error on the side of picking a fig that is slightly overripe than under ripe.
You can also watch for fruit color changes as the season progresses. The fruit will change as it gets riper. Each fig type has different colors and ripeness can vary from green to dark brown. Once you know what color your figs change to as they ripen, you will have a better idea what to look for.
Be sure to harvest in the morning on a partly cloudy day for best results.
How to Harvest Figs
Figs are easy to harvest when they are ripe. One essential rule regarding fig tree harvesting is to handle the ripe fruit as little as possible to avoid bruising. Pull or cut the fruit gently from the stem, leaving some of the stem attached to the fig to help delay fruit spoilage.
Place the figs in a shallow dish and do not pack them tightly on top of each other, as they bruise easily. Use caution when working above your head or on a ladder. If you have a tall tree, it’s helpful to have an assistant while you pick.
Note: Some people are allergic to fig latex, the milky white sap that oozes from the leaves and branches, and from the stems of unripe figs. The sap can cause itchy, painful dermatitis that can become worse when exposed to sunlight. If you are allergic to latex, be sure to wear long sleeves and gloves when harvesting figs.
Storing Fresh Figs
It is best to eat, use, dry or freeze figs as soon as possible after harvest. If you dry the figs either in the sun or using a dehydrator, they will last for up to three years in the freezer.
You can wash and dry the figs and place them on a baking sheet (not touching) and freeze until hard. Once the fruit is hard you can transfer them to a container and store them in the freezer for up to three years.
Fresh figs will keep in the refrigerator when placed in a single layer on a tray. The tray should be placed in the coldest part of your refrigerator, usually the crisper. However, don’t place the figs close to fresh vegetables, as they can cause the veggies to rot quickly. Eat figs stored in the refrigerator within three days.
How to Ripen Fruit Faster
Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we’re sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: You don’t have to wait any longer — here’s how to speed up your fruit’s ripening.
Shop the Story
Think on this: all of the lush fruits and vegetables that fill our markets and our plates, with an almost-infinite range of flavors and textures and varieties, all come from tiny, singular seeds.
The science behind these seeds — how they grow, reproduce, and turn from specks-in-dirt into food — is magic. The sweet, juicy plum you eat is the result of a long, complicated chain of scientific events that ends in nothing but pure, simple pleasure.
And when you pick the perfectly ripe specimen, good for you. But not all of us are that lucky. Some of us come home with hard peaches, or rigid avocados that simply aren’t ready for mashing. What then?
There are ways for us to play God, as it were, in the lifecycle of a fruit. We can speed up the ripening of some of our produce. But first, some science, thanks to Jeffrey Steingarten’s lovely Ripeness is All:
Some fruits will never ripen after being picked. This sad fact applies to most citrus, most berries, grapes, pineapple, and watermelon. All you can ask of these is that they be fully mature when they’re picked. Sorry.
Some fruit ripens off of the vine, but only in that it gets softer, more colorful, and more juicy — not sweeter. This includes blueberries, figs, most stone fruit, and melons (not of the water variety). But we’ll take soft figs over not soft figs any day.
Then there are the fruits that actually do what you want them to: they get sweeter once you take them home. Yet another reason to love apples, pears, mangoes, and kiwis. Avocadoes are special here because they only ripen off the vine. Way to go, avocado.
Whether you’re sweetening or just softening, the key to ripening your fruit at home is to harness naturally-occurring ethylene, a gas given off by fruit that aids in ripening. To do this, all you need is a paper bag, and maybe a few extra pieces of fruit if you’re extra anxious to bite into your hard plums.
The classic paper bag trick is the simplest way to soften your fruit: place whatever you have in a paper bag, seal it as best you can, and wait. Check on the bag’s contents after a few days.
To speed things up, you can also add an apple or a banana to your paper bag. These fruits — bananas especially — give off more ethylene than others, which will help ripen (or at least soften) any late bloomers lingering nearby.
If you don’t have any paper bags handy, don’t fear — you, too, can have softer fruit, faster. Rice traps ethylene effectively — in Indian households, mangoes are often submerged in a container of rice to speed up their ripening.
And then there are peaches. With their delicate skin and soft fuzz and all-consuming fragrance, peaches deserve their own ripening method. One that looks like a Cézanne painting.
Here’s how you do it: Lay down a clean linen napkin or cotton tea towel. (Looking for a good one? We know a guy.) You want something breathable, but stay away from terrycloth as it will trap in moisture. Place your peaches stem-side down, making sure they don’t touch. Cover with a second napkin or tea towel, and wait a few days. You’ll know your peaches are ripe when they have a strong, fragrant scent and their stem sides have flattened a bit from the weight of the whole fruit.
Now take a bite, and let the juice run down your face, and smile. And then go forth and make yourself some pie with the others.
Looking to do more with your perfectly ripe fruit, aside from eating it plain? Try these:
Peach PandowdyWhite Peach Jam
Spiced Plum Cobbler
Photos by James Ransom
My best friend who lives in California was just in town for a visit. Lucky for me, it’s fig season.
See, Marilyn has a habit of bringing fresh figs from a tree in her backyard. She tucks them in an empty egg carton, one per hole, and puts the carton in her carry-on. For her (and the rest of California), figs are no big deal—California is Fig Central, accounting for more than 95 percent of the U.S. crop. But figs are fragile, so the bulk of that fresh crop ends up processed. Which means that fresh, ripe figs are rare treasures for those of us not in the Golden State.
When Kristie Knoll and her husband, Rick, bought their farm north of San Francisco in 1979, neither of them had ever eaten a fresh fig. “But we knew we liked Fig Newtons, so we figured we could make cookies out of them,” she said. There are 600 fruit trees at Knoll Farms, many of them fig trees. Needless to say, they like figs now.
Here’s a little Fig 101 based on my conversation with Kristie Knoll. Should you come across fresh figs without an assist from a friend like mine, heed Knoll’s advice in choosing and storing them—and consider yourself lucky.
Two seasons of figs
Figs are actually in their second season right now. The brief first crop from June to July grows on the previous year’s wood. The second crop gets going in August, crescendos in September and typically runs through October, Knoll says.
There’s an order to which certain fig varieties come in, too, depending on location. Some types, such as the Brown Turkey, continue to produce all the way until, well, Turkey Day in November.
Get in touch
When choosing figs, give them a gentle squeeze (emphasis on gentle). Figs are thin-skinned and perishable. You’re looking for a little give; a ripe fig is soft but not mushy.
Does the fig have wrinkly skin? That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because, as Knoll says, “the sweetness will have concentrated in that fig.”
If you see a dewy drop oozing from the underside or “eye” of the fig, you’ve hit the jackpot in terms of ripeness. “Those are killer,” Knoll says: ripe, gushy, and sweet.
The difference in where you buy
While fresh figs at the farmers market are picked ripe or this close to it, figs from the supermarket are picked firm so they can travel. Leave the latter on the counter at home for a day to soften up before refrigerating them, Knoll said.
But before you refrigerate them…
If any figs do have that telltale dewy bottom, “eat those suckers now,” Knoll said.
Remove the rest from the basket or container they came in and set them on their sides on a paper towel-lined plate. Why their sides? Figs ripen from the bottom up, so the bum end is softer than the shoulders, Knoll said.
Figs keep for about a week in the fridge.
Figs are totally freezable. Do this in two steps as you would berries. Set them out in a layer on a parchment- or wax-lined baking sheet and pop that into the freezer until solid. Then, place the frozen figs into freezer bags or, Knoll’s preference, an airtight glass container.
What’s your type?
Here are some of the most popular fig varieties:
Black Mission Purple-black skin and pink, sweet flesh.
Brown Turkey Brownish purple skin and pink flesh. Milder than the Black Mission.
Calimyrna Large with pale yellow skin. Flesh is light pink and nutty flavored.
Kadota Light green skin with a delicate, not as sweet flavor.
Figs: Picking Tips, Facts and Recipes: Great things to make from fresh figs
Looking for Figs: Picking Tips, Facts and Recipes in 2020? Scroll down this page and follow the links. And if you bring home some fruit or vegetables and want to can, freeze, make jam, salsa or pickles, see this page for simple, reliable, illustrated canning, freezing or preserving directions. There are plenty of other related resources, click on the resources dropdown above.
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Many Americans have never eaten a fresh fig. I blame fig newtons and dried figs – those are NOTHING like a fresh fig. A fresh fig tastes like a mix of a peach and a strawberry!
In the U.S., Figs typically peak from July through first frost in the South, and from August and later in the North. Usually the trees produce a crop within a month, and then nothing for several months, so check your local farm to find out when they’ll be in season. In the north, most trees only produce one crop per season. In order to produce good local Figs, producers depend on ideal spring and early summer weather conditions, and no late frosts.
There are hundreds of fig varieties but the following are most commonly found in U.S. farms and markets.
Brown Turkey Figs: has brownish / copper-colored skin, often with hints of purple, and mostly pink/red flesh with some white flesh. This variety is used exclusively for the fresh fig market and is common at PYO farms..
Celeste figs are about the size of an egg, a purplish-brown when ripe, and a dark, sweet, moist, purple flesh inside.
The Calimyrna Fig: Is known for its nut-like flavor and golden skin. This type is commonly eaten as is.
The Mission Fig: Was named for the mission fathers who planted the fruit along the California coast. This fig is a deep purple which darkens to a rich black when dried. Often called “black mission figs”.
The Kadota Fig: Is the American version of the original Italian Dattato fig, that is thick-skinned with a creamy amber color when ripe. Practically seedless, this fig is often canned and dried. A similar variety is the “Peter’s Honey” fig. Birds often leave these alone, because, since they are green when ripe, the birds don’t know they’re ripe!
How to know when a fig is ripe
Color – Figs come in all colors from yellow, brown, red to purple, black and others! So you need to know what color the ripe fig is. The most commonly grown figs, Brown Turkey and Celeste are a golden yellow as shown at left when ripe.
Texture – Ripe Figs Become soft like a peach when ripe, but they should not be mushy or fall apart!
Fig Picking Tips
Fig sap allergy?
I have heard and verified that some people are allergic to the fig latex, a milky white liquid produced by the fig tree and develop contact rashes. Just like with other latex allergies, if this applies to you be sure to wear and long sleeves when you pick and wear the appropriate type of gloves when picking or handling figs!
Storing fresh figs
Figs won’t last long at room temperature, but a mildly cool refrigerator will keep them several days.
Freeze within 12 hours of picking time, if possible. Prepare and freeze Figs only about 3 pints at one time. Then repeat the process until all Figs are frozen.
- Make a medium sweetness syrup of
3 cups sugar
4 cups water
The figs will taste slightly sweeter than desired at this stage to be the proper flavor after freezing. Simply stir the sugar into the water to dissolve. No heating is necessary.
- To the sugar syrup, add an citric/ascorbic add mixture bought at the grocery store (for example, “Fruit Fresh”) and follow the directions on the package, generally adding about 1 teaspoon per batch. This is to help preserve color and flavor.
- Wash the figs. remove the stems and any soft spots. Slice the figs about 1/4-inch (1/2 cm) thick.
- Pack the sliced figs into polyethylene containers, ziploc bags, or vacuum freezer bags, allowing room to add about 1/2 cup of sugar syrup, and allowing about 1/2 inch per pint expansion room. More room will be needed for larger containers. Pack the containers to force out as much air as possible since air dries out the figs when they freeze. Be sure to label and date containers.
- Place containers as quickly as possible into the coldest part of your freezer, allowing room around the containers to promote fast freezing. Containers can be packed more economically after they are frozen solid, usually 24 hours.
When you are ready to eat them, thaw the frozen figs in the refrigerator in the container.
Fig Preserving and Recipes:
- How to Make Homemade Fig Preserves and Fig Jam
- How to make fig-strawberry jam.
- How to Can Figs
- Making Candied figs
- Other fig recipes
- See this page from Purdue University for more information about figs
Common Fig Varieties and Uses
For Fresh Use
For Jams and Preserves
|Adriatic ( also called Fragola, Strawberry Fig, Verdone, White Adriatic)||Greenish skin , flesh is strawberry colored||Small to medium||Good||Good|
|Alma||Greenish brown||Small||Very good||Good|
|Black Mission||Black purple skin with
Flesh watermelon to pink,
|Medium||Good||Good. Easily dried at home.|
|Brown Turkey||Bronze ( yellow/brown)||Medium to large||Good||Excellent|
|Celeste||Lt. brown to violet||Medium||Very good||Excellent|
|Green Ischia||Bright green||Medium||Good||Good (seeds
|Hunt||Dull bronze with specks||Small to medium||Good||Excellent|
|Italian Honey fig, Peter’s Honey||skin yellowish green, flesh white to amber||Medium to large||Very good,
very sweet, lemon flavor
|Kadota||Bright greenish-yellow||Medium to large||Fair||Excellent|
Other variants are:
- There are five varieties of Celeste: giant, blue, golden, improved and regular.
- LSU gold and purple;
- Smith, which has a scarlet interior;
- Clement, a Mediterranean variety;
- Hardy Chicago; and
- More information: see Figs 4 Fun: Said to be the largest database of information about figs (Ficus carica) that is available on the internet.
Figs Serving Size 1/2 cup raw (74g)
|Amounts Per Serving||% Daily Value|
|Calories from Fat 0|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 24g||8%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||7%|
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Below is the USDA’s Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Figs
Note: There are small amounts of malic, boric and oxalic acids.
While there is some variation among varieties of figs, most like hot climates but can tolerate temperatures down to 10 F to 20 F with mulch or in favorable sites. If it gets and stays colder than that, any above ground growth will be killed off and the tree can regrow from the roots in the Spring. Of course, if it stays that cold for long, the roots can die, too. Brown Turkey, Brunswick and Blue Celeste are more cold tolerant than most of the others.
Figs like a dry climate with light early spring rains. Too much water during fruit development and ripening can be detrimental to the crop, causing the fruits to split. But very hot, dry spells will cause fruit-drop even if the trees are irrigated.
Figs require full sun most of the day to ripen. Trees can become enormous, and will shade out anything growing beneath. Roots spread, traveling far beyond the tree canopy. Figs are not a fruit tree for tight quarters. The fine roots that invade garden beds, however, may be cut without loss to the tree. In areas with short (less than 120 days between frosts), cool summers, you cvan prune the trees to grow against a southern-facing wall (called an espalier). If you are growing them in a container; replace most of the soil in the tub every three years and keep the sides of the tub shaded to prevent overheating in sunlight.
Soil and Fertilizer
The fig can be grown on a wide range of soils; light sand, rich loam, heavy clay or limestone, providing there is sufficient depth and food drainage. Sandy soil that is medium-dry and contains a good deal of lime is preferred when the crop is intended for drying. Highly acid soils are unsuitable. The pH should be between 6.0 and 6.5. The tree is fairly tolerant of moderate salinity.
Pests and Diseases
Gophers like to eat fig tree roots. Deer are not particularly attracted to fig trees or fruit, but birds can cause a lot of damage, pecking at the ripe fruits. Varieties that are green or yellow when ripe tend top attract fewer birds.
Nematodes, particularly in sandy soils, attack roots, forming galls and stunting the trees. Mitadulid and Carpophilus dried fruit beetles can enter ripening fruit through the eye and cause damage by introducing fungi and rots. They frequently breed in fallen citrus fruits. Keep a clean orchard by destroy fallen fruits and do not grow near citrus trees.
Mosaic virus, formerly considered benign, probably causes crop reduction. Symptoms resemble potassium deficiency–leaves are marbled with yellow spots, and the veins are light colored. Symptoms are often not apparent until the tree is older or when it becomes heat or water-stressed. .
Fig trees are easily propagated through cuttings. In September or October, make a cutting and put it in a bucket with potting soil, or simply stick it in the ground and cover with mulch. One out of 10 will take, but once you’ve got a fig tree going, it’s hard to kill. Protect it the first winter from frost with a deep mulch, and then it’s on its own. After three years, it should start producing.
A reader suggests that the following method has a much higher rate of success. I’ve tried it and it does work well:
Take a low-growing branch, about quarter to half inch (5 – 15 mm) diameter, and bury part in the soil. Put a stone or brick on top of the submerged section to stop it getting pulled out by wind or passing animals. After a year it will have rooted. Cut the parent branch and pot up or plant out the new plant.
Fig Preserving Directions
- How to can figs
- Candied figs
- Other fig recipes
Frequently Asked Questions About Figs
- Q: I don’t have enough ripe figs to make a batch of jam yet – how do I keep the ones I’ve picked until I have enough to make jam? Can I make jam from frozen figs – if I use your method to freeze?
A: I just prepare them as if I were going to use them (in jam making or whatever) by washing, then cutting the stems off and peeling them (I like them peeled), then I pack them in a ziploc bag and pop them in the freezer. A few weeks in the freezer like that till I accumulate enough to make jam, won’t hurt them! I’ve keep them in the freezer as long as several months until I made jam!
- Q. Is it possible to be allergic to figs? I get an itchy rash that looks like poison ivy after handling them.
A. Yes, others have reported allergic reactions to handling and eating figs. See this scientific report on the subject. Skin reactions are more common after handling hot peppers and mangos (see this page for more information) but it is not unheard of with figs.
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George WeigelYoung figs on a ‘Brown Turkey’ tree.
Q: I have several fig trees that have continued to increase in size each year, but the figs on them never mature in size. Do you have any suggestions?
A: That’s a fairly common problem with figs around here. They’re not very well adapted to our climate (a tad too cold in winter) and so aren’t the most reliable producers.
Age is one issue, but if yours have been in the ground for at least 3 years, you should be getting fruit by now.
Lack of sun and lack of water in mid-summer heat are the two main reasons why mature fig trees don’t ripen their fruits.
This year was particularly rough on both fronts because we had a lot of rain and cloudiness for much of the growing season but with a really hot and dry spell for a few weeks in the middle.
Almost all of the few figs I had on my 2-year-old tree fell off in August right before all the rain came.
Lack of the right soil nutrition is one other possibility — especially a lack of potassium and phosphorus and/or an excess of nitrogen (which can happen if lawns are being fed four or five times a year around your trees). Try adding a scattering of Bulb-Tone, Bulb Booster or a tomato fertilizer in the spring if you think this could be it.
And finally, some fig varieties are much more reliable producers than others. ‘Brown Turkey’ seems to be the most popular, but fig aficionados say that’s a mediocre performer at best.
Some of the best figs for our area (Zone 6) are ‘Osborn Prolific,’ ‘Desert King’ and ‘Chicago Hardy.’
If you’re growing in pots, figs are even more sensitive to water and fertilizer. Pots dry out fast, so you may have to soak them daily. And because of all the watering, nutrients quickly leach out the bottom. A good way to keep a steady nutrient supply going is to add a quarter-strength dose of fertilizer every other watering.
Figs aren’t easy in the North, but fresh figs are so good it’s a crop worth trying.