Unripened figs

Asked September 3, 2020, 12:50 PM EDT

This year was the first year I had a lot of figs on my fig tree. I wrapped it in burlap for over wintering and for the first time it did not die down to ground and have to grow up all over again. Maybe because we had a mild winter too. Anyway many figs sprouted in spring and early summer and I was so excited but they did not get beyond a quarter or nickel size and ripen. I looked up info on the problem and one said, not enough water; another said too much water. Could you advise? One resource also said that you should pick off all the small ones you know will not ripen, leave on the midsize because some of those will ripen next spring. Advice on that too? Thank you

Washington County Maryland

1 Response

Congratulations! It's exciting to get your fig through the winter unscathed. While overall it was not a bad winter, we did get temperatures below ideals once or twice, which can kill the branches back to the ground.
You should be seeing fruit develop on this year's shoots (that emerged from overwintered wood). Figs can take a good while to ripen, mid-September is the earliest time usually and not all types grow large. They should be colored and slightly soft at picking. They don't ripen off the plant.
Here is our Figs page: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/figs

Figs that develop in spring on older wood that survived the winter are referred to as the breba or breva crop- early figs. In our region it is not common to see significant breba crops. In areas with mild winters, the breba crop may be the main crop. The production of spring figs also varies by cultivar- some will not produce a breba crop at all, others produce figs that look different than the main late crop. It's not unusual for the early figs to stay small and drop off the tree. If they remain on the tree they will not overwinter and grow and ripen next year.

If these don't ripen in time you may want to plant a recommended cultivar like Brown Turkey, Celeste, or Hardy Chicago.