Fig tree

Asked August 23, 2019, 3:04 PM EDT

I have a 4 year old Desert King fig tree in Bandon, OR. I got 7 tasty figs last year, 2018, from an early set. A second crop was set in late summer, but fruit did not ripen and remained on the branches through winter. I removed them and pruned the tree quite heavily in the spring, on advice from an online source. This spring, the tree sprouted from most of the pruned branches, and about a dozen figs were set. Most of the figs fell off prematurely, due to wind , I believe. There are 5 remaining and they are good sized. I am waiting to pick them until they are soft and "fall" over. There is a lot of new growth and the tree looks very healthy. A few small figs emerged a few weeks ago and they are growing. It is now late August, and I suspect these new figs will not ripen, based on last years experience. So, my questions are... should I remove these small figs now? If I do, will this same node generate a new fig in the spring? Or , will a new fig generate from the same node if I let them grow and fall off on their own?

Coos County Oregon

3 Responses

Time to First Crop

Fruiting fig trees have a long juvenile period compared to other fruit trees. Most figs will not produce a crop for the first four to five years, notes Rutgers University. If the fig is severely injured by over-pruning or an unusual frost, it may take longer to fruit for the first time.

Crops Per Year

Many (but not all) fig varieties will form two crops of figs. The first crop to ripen is called the “Breba Crop.” The breba figs form as small, hard green figs that overwinter (according to some sources) or form in late winter and early spring on the prior year’s hardwood growth after the fig experiences a period of winter dormancy.

The main season fig crop is different. It forms on the current year’s growth and grows to fully ripe in one season. Depending on how long your growing season is and how hot your climate is, main season figs might ripen anywhere from summer to late fall.

Harvest Time

The exact timing of the main crop depends on your climate and conditions. For example, growers in cooler coastal areas usually harvest their figs during October and November. For warmer and inland climates, the usual harvest time is between June and September. In some tropical locations, fig trees may bear some fruit throughout the year, with increased production in early summer and midwinter.

Environmental Considerations

Even healthy, mature fig trees may not bear fruit on schedule if the right environmental conditions are missing. Figs may not pollinate properly in hot, dry weather. This can cause a poor crop or no fruit at all. You may also have problems with figs if you over-prune during the winter or if you prune improperly. Figs that suffer from root knot nematodes may also have trouble fruiting correctly.

Fruit Drop

In some cases, a young, healthy fig tree undergoes proper pollination and fruit set, then drops all its fruit suddenly. This phenomenon is usually caused by overfeeding. Stop fertilizing the plant immediately. It may take three to four years for the fig to recover from over-fertilization and produce a crop that ripens and stays on the tree. Figs grown in the ground only require an application of fertilizer in spring, while container grown figs require an application in summer. Some fig varieties, including “Celeste,” drop fruit in hot weather regardless of their fertilizer regimen.

Here are a couple of publications on the subject.

Hope this helps!

Thanks for the quick response. Good information and I found the answer to my specific question in the 3 links you provided.

Great! Thanks for contacting "Ask an Expert"!