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BoyerHoldingsLLC

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Hello, 

I am planting 50 to 100 cold hardy fig trees in zone 7a this year.  I will be covering them up for winter and unless planning necessitates a move will leave them in the ground indefinitely.  My objective is to maximize fruit production.  What is the recommended spacing in the row and between rows.  I fertilize my trees with my own mix.  I hope some experts will chime in like BigBadBill, Herman, and Bass. 

Thanks, 

Craig A. Boyer 
Boyer Holdings LLC 


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hoosierbanana

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How are you going to manage the land: mow, cultivate, herbicides, ground cover etc.? What varieties are you planting, why? What specifically will you be doing to protect them? What is the slope and sun exposure of the site? Orientation of the rows, east-west etc.? Have you had the soil tested? What is its history, current plant species growing there?
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eboone

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Reply with quote  #3 
If you are going to prune them back significantly each year to cover them then 5ft apart would be tight but possible. I intend to plant a row this summer 6ft apart and prune them back a lot for covering them yearly. You may need a little less winterizing at your end of the state
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smatthew

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Reply with quote  #4 
I wouldn't put them closer together than 15ft. 
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Reply with quote  #5 
Just remember that the closer you space any plant, the more the plants are going to obscure the light for other plants - which will result in decreased productivity. If you have very limited space it might be worth it for you, but otherwise you are just hurting the plants' ability to turn sunlight into sugars. If you think of a tightly spaced orchard, in a lot of cases it's only about the top third of the tree that's getting really full sunlight.
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NoelG_123

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Reply with quote  #6 
I wonder if 'checker board' spacing would work better for you?  Give them a little more space, but juxtapose their location. Just a thought. Figs often come into ripening at different times so this may help as well. Remember that you have to give your self room to work amongst the tree's, (air-layers, fertilizing, watering etc.) so you don't want, what will become a thick hedge if you plant too tightly. I know what you are facing, as I asked the identical question just months ago. Pull in the reigns abit and maybe find a stable family member who can share some yard/garden space with you- that's what I did. The problem with dozens of varieties is usually space, especially for us city people. Plant only proven varieties (focusing on having many varieties last). I am planning on giving my questionable (unproven) varieties to friends for their yards as well, with the understanding that I can do air-layers and stuff if I ever need to. Hope this helps. Noel 
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BoyerHoldingsLLC

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Reply with quote  #7 
Hi Everyone, Thank you for the great advice so far. 

Hoosierbanana had some great questions

 
How are you going to manage the land: mow, cultivate, herbicides, ground cover etc.? Probably ground cover that will be mowed or tilled under come fall. 

What varieties are you planting, why? Mostly cold hard varieties, because they will likely be permanent in ground trees. I would like to maximize fruit production. 

What specifically will you be doing to protect them? I will probably wrap each tree individually with fencing, carpet, and tarps.  Or, i will a fix a temporary hoop house over the row. 

What is the slope and sun exposure of the site? The site is flat, full sun. 

Orientation of the rows, east-west etc.?  Rows will run NW to SE. 

Have you had the soil tested? Yes, it is high in potash, phosphate, and iron.  Lime was added last fall to adjust the pH. 

What is its history, current plant species growing there?
 It has a long history of being a farm but hasn't been farmed recently.  Not sure of what they grew there unfortunately but could probably do some digging and find out. 



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hoosierbanana

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Sounds like the soil here... I don't give any inground trees fertilizer and they don't usually seem to mind, ph was already 6.7 at the site. There is a good bit of organic material also, it was a dairy farm for many years and then vegetables for a while, compost spread every few years. If weeds like chickweed and pigweed are growing well that should indicate figs will also do well. Check this out: http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/listen-your-weeds

If there are nasty perennial weeds like bindweed or canada thistle you probably want to plant through woven ground cover. It attracts voles (for the first couple years at least) though so you need to trap them or they will snack on the trees all winter, it saves lots of weeding though.

In an open space away from houses and other protection the chance of frost damage increases. It complicates protection because the trees can't be covered tight for the winter with leaves still on or they will probably rot. Something like Agribon is good to ease them into dormancy nut it is no good in high winds... a high tunnel would be ideal I guess if you can figure out how to keep them dormant through the winter. Because of frost damage and extra cold winters, the most productive varieties (for me) are the ones that rebound from freeze damage well and set fruit early: the Etna types, Florea, and Verte types have done the best in that regard so far, although Verte will not have time to ripen much of a crop. Fertile soil also makes trees less hardy because they grow late into the season. The only commercial fig orchard in the mid-Atlantic ever planted, that I know of, was Verte in Crisfield MD around 1960. I still have more to trial, but the bulk of the planting is Etna types.

I did 8 ft. between plants and 12 and 14 ft. between rows (depending on space available). The 12 ft. ones have 4 ft. black ground cover (I wonder if white would have been better sometimes) and the 14 ft. ones have 6 ft. black ground cover, leaving just enough space between for the tractor/mower to squeeze through, or it takes 2 passes with the riding mower. There is a wider 16 ft. drive row in between the fields. That spacing seems to be fine for the Etnas so far, if I protected them better they would be a solid hedge after 3-5 years, I just pull flexible suckers to the ground and cover with leaves plus mound leaves around the thicker trunks.

This site is on a south facing slope that is fairly steep, and the rows run east to west so the rows could even be a little closer together without shading each other very much. On flat ground with diagonal oriented rows an equal spacing might be better if that suits how you will manage them.

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pitangadiego

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Reply with quote  #9 
I have heard that commercial orchards in CA are 15' x 15'. The orchard at USDA/UC Davis is 12' between trees and 15' between rows. Vehicular access for orchard management is a major factor in orchard spacing.
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Reply with quote  #10 
I'm on the Texas coast and mine grow almost all year long.
20' between trees, 25' between rows.

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grant441

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoosierbanana
Sounds like the soil here... I don't give any inground trees fertilizer and they don't usually seem to mind, ph was already 6.7 at the site. There is a good bit of organic material also, it was a dairy farm for many years and then vegetables for a while, compost spread every few years. If weeds like chickweed and pigweed are growing well that should indicate figs will also do well. Check this out: http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/listen-your-weeds

If there are nasty perennial weeds like bindweed or canada thistle you probably want to plant through woven ground cover. It attracts voles (for the first couple years at least) though so you need to trap them or they will snack on the trees all winter, it saves lots of weeding though.

In an open space away from houses and other protection the chance of frost damage increases. It complicates protection because the trees can't be covered tight for the winter with leaves still on or they will probably rot. Something like Agribon is good to ease them into dormancy nut it is no good in high winds... a high tunnel would be ideal I guess if you can figure out how to keep them dormant through the winter. Because of frost damage and extra cold winters, the most productive varieties (for me) are the ones that rebound from freeze damage well and set fruit early: the Etna types, Florea, and Verte types have done the best in that regard so far, although Verte will not have time to ripen much of a crop. Fertile soil also makes trees less hardy because they grow late into the season. The only commercial fig orchard in the mid-Atlantic ever planted, that I know of, was Verte in Crisfield MD around 1960. I still have more to trial, but the bulk of the planting is Etna types.

I did 8 ft. between plants and 12 and 14 ft. between rows (depending on space available). The 12 ft. ones have 4 ft. black ground cover (I wonder if white would have been better sometimes) and the 14 ft. ones have 6 ft. black ground cover, leaving just enough space between for the tractor/mower to squeeze through, or it takes 2 passes with the riding mower. There is a wider 16 ft. drive row in between the fields. That spacing seems to be fine for the Etnas so far, if I protected them better they would be a solid hedge after 3-5 years, I just pull flexible suckers to the ground and cover with leaves plus mound leaves around the thicker trunks.

This site is on a south facing slope that is fairly steep, and the rows run east to west so the rows could even be a little closer together without shading each other very much. On flat ground with diagonal oriented rows an equal spacing might be better if that suits how you will manage them.
Hey Brent, what type of woven ground cover do you recommend?

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FigTrees2013

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Reply with quote  #12 
I left some potted fig trees in an unheated greenhouse in Boston this winter. We had a low of 9 and 10-15 degrees regularly in late February and March. It appears the trees all survived pretty well. I would imagine that a polycarb tunnel would work pretty good keeing the trees through the winter. I line my greenhouse with old 5 gallon jugs of water. If you did that for rows of polycarb you could probably do the same -- the water holds the heat from the day and radiates it out at night. Probably easier than wrapping each tree individually. I also know a guy here who builds plywood boxes for his trees -- they look like mini sheds, insulated on the interior and then covered with a tarp on the top. His trees are over 50 years old and have trunks that are 1-2 feet thick. He picks 5 gallon pails of fruit from 2 trees -- neither of which is more than 12 feet high. Depending on how long you plan on doing the orchard it might be a worthwhile venture to consider something similar. 
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hoosierbanana

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Reply with quote  #13 
Grant, look for greenhouse or grower suppliers in your area. They are 300 ft rolls, uv stabilized, should last 10-20 years.

http://www.lumiteinc.com/products/groundcover

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mgginva

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Reply with quote  #14 
I have one comment; if you plan to use a tractor space the rows as far apart as you possibly can.


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Reply with quote  #15 
My orchard has figs placed 6-8 feet apart, my rows
are 12+ feet wide.

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elin

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Reply with quote  #16 
11.jpg 

 
Attached Files
pdf US7818915B1.pdf (730.37 KB, 33 views)


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Reply with quote  #17 

  Wow, Elin!

   Your attachment of the Flaishman Patent caught me by surprise.  There are several large fig farmers here on the forum that will need to be paying back-royalties to Moshe, as they have been producing scion for cultivation and sale using espaliered trees. 
tennesseefig

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Reply with quote  #18 
That was an informative article.  I would like to know more about high density planting but without the espalier design.   It would seem that if someone was growing one specific variety they could space their plants very close and allow them to somewhat grow into one another but managed of course.  I have posted on the forum asking about people spacing figs close in an orchard but haven't seen much of a response.  I remember one member in Florida I believe planted a hedge row spaced 3ft but never got back with us with an update on the production, maybe because his orchard is huge and many trees are spaced more than that in the orchard.
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crazy4figs

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Reply with quote  #19 
FigTrees2013, 
Please check out my post in Winter Protection thread. Look familiar?


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Ann
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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazy4figs
FigTrees2013, 
Please check out my post in Winter Protection thread. Look familiar?



Yes! Exactly 

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Sas

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pitangadiego
I have heard that commercial orchards in CA are 15' x 15'. The orchard at USDA/UC Davis is 12' between trees and 15' between rows. Vehicular access for orchard management is a major factor in orchard spacing.


Thanks. Great info about spacing here.

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