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aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #1 
I've got a Desert King that is about 4 years old, and I wish I had pruned it closer to the ground.  Is it too late to cut the main 3 branches lower?   prune.jpg  pruning.jpg

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Amanda
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Growing:  Desert King, Peter's Honey, Latarulla, Atreano, Conadria, Stella, Negronne, Vern's Brown Turkey, Black Spanish
livetaswim06

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Reply with quote  #2 
I am not sure in terms of pruning, but it looks really good to me. 
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ricky

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Reply with quote  #3 
Well, I may be wrong, winter/spring pruning is for good main crop.

However, Desert king is good for " Breba" 1st crop, It is tricky to prune "Breba" fig tree, It will not have any "Breba", Correct me, If I am wrong.




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Kelo

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Reply with quote  #4 
I wouldn't prune it if it was mine. Looks good and healthy, too.
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kevinmfduane

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Reply with quote  #5 
I would not prune those. The structure looks great.
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Kevin
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DonCentralTexas

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Reply with quote  #6 
Ok, so I mostly agree with the folks above, but...

If YOU wanted it lower, and it has not leafed out, then yes, you could prune it lower.





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Don  (Near Austin, TX zone 8b)

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aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #7 
OK, thanks all.  I'll probably just leave it alone then.  :)
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Amanda
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nkesh099

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Reply with quote  #8 
Prune it after it's done fruiting (sometimes latter in summer).

Navid.
jrdewhirst

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Reply with quote  #9 
I agree that it looks good.  But here's one option, if you have the room and really want a lower tree:  Cut (or, better still, air layer) the central leader just above the two branches.  Pull the two remaining branches gradually downward over the course of a few days until they are more or less horizontal.  [The branches still look pliable enough to manage this without breaking the branches or splitting them from the trunk.]  Assuming success, tie them to stakes, fixing them in that horizontal position.  Verticals will grow, bearing main crop figs.  Prune them early so that they are spaced every 6" or so.  In the fall, leave the horizontals but prune the verticals to 2-3 buds.
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Joe D
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Reply with quote  #10 

I wouldn't prune it any more than you have. Since it is a DK, and will only produce a breba crop on last year's growth, you want to keep some old wood there. Or you will not get any breba fruit this year. You will always want older wood to get fruit. If you prune it close to the ground you will have to wait at least two years.

If you want to control the height, then prune one part down low. Then next year prune another section low, and then a final section the year after that. Then start the process over. Cut as much back as you want, but leave 1/2 to 2/3 with wood for breba figs. This is what I would do.

CliffH


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jrdewhirst

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Reply with quote  #11 
Ooops!  I missed or forgot the fact that it was a DK.  So Cliff is right about the need for 1-yr old wood.

There is a version of the technique I described where you use the verticals as fruiting wood for brebas.  Prune to produce verticals every 6" as I described.   At the end of Year 1, prune half of them to 2-3 buds, prune the rest at the tips.  These will produce brebas next year.  Meanwhile next year, grow new verticals from the spurs that you left.  In the fall, cut back the wood that fruited to spurs, prune the new wood at the tips.  So you are alternating annually which spurs fruit on old wood and which spurs grow new wood.

This is just a "low profile" version of what's described in the video above. 

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Joe D
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aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #12 
Interesting ideas.  I had thought that I was just forgoing any significant breba production this year in favor of developing the structure.  I already pruned back a lot of the wood that would have given breba fruit.  Why do you prune the tips of the branches that you want to fruit next year?  Does that stop the branch from extending any further and allow it to just put its energy into fruit?  Do you always get more than one branch growing from a spur?  Is there an age limit for when they stop producing spurs?  If I waited to cut any of the bottom branches as CliffH suggests, they would be 5-6 years old I think at the time of pruning.  Not a problem? I don't think I need to keep it super low, I just wanted as much branching as possible while keeping it low enough to not need a ladder.   Thanks so much for the replies!
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Amanda
Oregon, Zone 8b
Growing:  Desert King, Peter's Honey, Latarulla, Atreano, Conadria, Stella, Negronne, Vern's Brown Turkey, Black Spanish
aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #13 
I was actually trying to emulate the guy in the video, but was having a hard time visualizing how tall he made his first cuts off the main 3 branches.  At first I thought it was a lot lower than I did, but now I'm thinking they're more at thigh level and the branches will thicken into that space well?
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Amanda
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jrdewhirst

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Reply with quote  #14 
Pinching the tips after the desired growth (e.g., 3-4') will promote branching and keep the size manageable. It will probably also result in more leaf nodes, including tightly spaced nodes on the branches, which will mean more brebas next year.

What I'm calling a spur is just a branch cut short. So no time limit. It's not like a fruiting spur on an apple or pear. If you leave a spur with 3 nodes, you may get more than one vertical but you should cut off all but one. That will bear next year's brebas. Going out the horizontal branch with spurs every 6" or so, you alternate pruning so that half of the spurs are producing figs each year. One has 1 yr wood bearing brebas this year, the next is growing new wood that will bear brebas next year. When the brebas are done this year, cut all the bearing verticals to a spur (trimmed branch) 2-3 nodes long. Leave the new verticals.

Whether you want the tree tall or wide or whatever is just a matter of preference, dictated somewhat by space. But if you don't want to use a ladder but do want to maximize your yield from one tree, then you want to get it wide. Hence my suggestion to bend some of the branches to a more horizontal position.

There is also a choice whether to make it wide in 1 or 2 dimensions. Given a short trunk, you can train permanent horizontals in two opposing directions, like a low T. Or you can train horizontals to all 4 points of the compass. If the horizontals are long enough, you can have some permanent branches. The key concept is that the low horizontals are permanent, while the verticals are a mix of one year old wood and new wood.

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Joe D
Z6B - Bristol, RI
jrdewhirst

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Reply with quote  #15 
I think you can "head" the trunk at ~12-24", then train and grow the horizontals to 4-8' each. Verticals, which bear the fruit, could be allowed to grow 3-4' before pinching. That would keep the whole tree under 6' or so in height. You ought to be able to get a few hundred figs each year from one tree. The tree in the video seems a bit tall for easy picking.
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Joe D
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aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #16 
That is a whole new way of growing a fig tree that I hadn't thought about...thank you so  much!!  I'm not sure if I'll do it for that tree, but that horizontal procedure might allow me to put one more tree in the yard that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to.  Thank you for the explanation!!
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Amanda
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Growing:  Desert King, Peter's Honey, Latarulla, Atreano, Conadria, Stella, Negronne, Vern's Brown Turkey, Black Spanish
aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #17 
Is it too late to cut back that central leader lower and still have it produce some new branches?  I've started to get leaf and fig buds, but they're still very small, not fully sized leaves yet.  I thought I was going to leave the tree as is, but after thinking about it some more I think I would like to cut it lower.  But not if it's too late to form new branches this season.  Will a thicker trunk really grow new branches?
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Amanda
Oregon, Zone 8b
Growing:  Desert King, Peter's Honey, Latarulla, Atreano, Conadria, Stella, Negronne, Vern's Brown Turkey, Black Spanish
jrdewhirst

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Reply with quote  #18 
No, it's not too late.  And yes, a thick trunk will still grow branches.  The tree wants to grow.  It will find a way.

Remember, though, that without the fig wasp, DK will ripen only brebas.  Brebas are born on 1-yr old wood.  If you cut the tree low, you will sacrifice the brebas that would have been born on the pruned wood.  But you'll get lots of new growth to make brebas next year.

You asked about pruning the central leader.  What will you do with the other trunks?  Would you consider just bending / staking the outside "trunks" so that they run more horizontally (or maybe 30-45 degrees)?  That would make a lower tree but wide.  These laterals could provide permanent scaffolds supporting future wood that would be recycled as explained in the video.

Also, rather than just pruning the central leader now, you could air layer it just above your planned cut.  Put on the container and medium, wait 6-8 weeks, then cut off your new tree!  You might even be able to delay the cut until after you've harvested any brebas on the central leader.  In either case, I'd pinch the tip growth / buds from the air-layered leader to encourage branching, both above the air layer (new branches on the new tree) and below it (new branches on the old tree).

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Joe D
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TahomaGuy2

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Reply with quote  #19 
Good job! I like it as it is!! The 3-mail branches have different lengths which is good when apical dominance starts.
The only thing I'd do is wait until June, then bud graft a different variety a foot of the ground on each bare trunk.
You'd then be "closer to the ground" and the tree would still be producing cultivars after the DK brebas
have run their course!

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aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #20 
Ahh, two good options I hadn't thought of.  If I air layer it I won't lose those branches completely...I air layered a bunch of stuff last year.  I have never grafted before so that hadn't occurred to me.  I'll research that.  I don't think making the branches horizontal would work, because I have pretty tight spacing...only 8 feet between trees.  I like that idea though, so I"m trying to find another place in the yard where I can do it with one of my young plants currently in a container.  Thanks for the suggestions!!


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Amanda
Oregon, Zone 8b
Growing:  Desert King, Peter's Honey, Latarulla, Atreano, Conadria, Stella, Negronne, Vern's Brown Turkey, Black Spanish
aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #21 
Charles, I was wondering what you've had the best luck growing in our climate, besides Desert King?  
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Amanda
Oregon, Zone 8b
Growing:  Desert King, Peter's Honey, Latarulla, Atreano, Conadria, Stella, Negronne, Vern's Brown Turkey, Black Spanish
jrdewhirst

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Reply with quote  #22 
Amanda -- 

I know your question wasn't directed at me, but I'll respond anyway.

The basic idea is that you need figs that ripen very early, so that they can ripen when you have some semblance of summer heat.  That may point to varieties that produce good brebas.

DK does well because it produces good brebas.  I'd think that you'd have a good shot with other "San Pedro" type figs, such as Filacciano Bianco, Grantham's Royal.  You might also do well with breba-producing "common figs" known to perform well without high heat.  The English Brown Turkeys such as Laradek's, Sweet George, Bayernfeige Violetta might work.

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Joe D
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TahomaGuy2

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Reply with quote  #23 
Amanda-
I've concluded that Lattarula (Italian Honey Fig) and Neveralla (Osborne Prolific) are very compatible with our climate. 
My best producer these last 3-years has been Green Ischia. It took 10-yrs to produce a single fig, and now starts ripening
very heavily in early October to late Nov. 
I didn't give up on it but was  tempted to do so many times.
My 30" Negronne is off to a fast start this season showing 21 figlets. 



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jrdewhirst

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Reply with quote  #24 
Charles -- I'm just curious (I have Lattarula) -- do you raise it for brebas, main crop, or both?
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Joe D
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Reply with quote  #25 
Both.
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aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #26 
Charles--cool, I have a baby Laturella and a Negronne that haven't produced yet.  I haven't heard of Neveralla or Green Ischia, so I'll have to look into those.  I also have black spanish, Vern's Brown Turkey, Conadria, Atreano, Peter's Honey,  Stella, and a mystery tree from Death Valley.  They're all very young, but I've had Peter's Honey and Stella for 3.5 years, and they've produced virtually  nothing--some of smaller trees of different variety have done much better.  Even now between them they've got less than 5 figs starting.  Most are in pots, and I don't have much room, so I'm testing them out for a few years...the ones that don't produce well are going to get culled.  I know I have to give them time though. 

jrdewhirst--thanks, I"ll take a look at those varieties as well.

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Amanda
Oregon, Zone 8b
Growing:  Desert King, Peter's Honey, Latarulla, Atreano, Conadria, Stella, Negronne, Vern's Brown Turkey, Black Spanish
jrdewhirst

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Reply with quote  #27 
If you've had a fig tree for 3+ years and you've gotten no figs, something is wrong.  I really don't mean to be critical, but I also don't want you to waste years failing to grow good figs if there's a problem that can be easily fixed.

Maybe it's your climate.  But I'd also have to ask: Do the plants get good sun?  Are they well watered, at least during peak growing season (April -July)?  Are they reasonably well fertilized?  And maybe most critically, are the pots big enough, e.g., 5g or bigger (though with good water and fertilizer even a small pot can perform well)?

For comparison, RI is not exactly heaven for figs, climate-wise.  But as a rule here, a new cutting can grow to 3-4' (sometimes 6') in its 1st year and you have to pinch off figs so that the tree can concentrate on vegetative growth.  I can't vouch for your varieties, but last year I got ripe figs off 1st year cuttings of a variety of Mt Etnas, Nero 600M, Emerald Strawberry, Fico Nera Duemane.  This year my cuttings of Improved Celeste, started in December, are 2-3' high and wide; and I've been pulling baby figs off them for months.  Even Black Madeira, started in late January, has tiny figs.  So before you cull a variety, re-check the growing environment.

FWIW, your in-ground DK seems to be doing very well.  So ask yourself why the potted varieties aren't doing as well.  What's different?  In particular, are the potted figs getting as much water and the in-ground fig?

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Joe D
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aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #28 
They get good sun, lots of water, fish fertilizer every month, and I repot them every season so they have lots of room.  They get the same treatment and location as my other potted figs, so it is weird.  The trees are growing well and are large.  The stella actually had 2 really big branches that I air layered last year so that I could have them branch closer to the ground.  Now that I think about it, that one did have quite a few figs in the fall, but none of them came anywhere near ripening before winter.  Maybe that one just doesn't do a good breba crop, which is really what I need out here?
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Amanda
Oregon, Zone 8b
Growing:  Desert King, Peter's Honey, Latarulla, Atreano, Conadria, Stella, Negronne, Vern's Brown Turkey, Black Spanish
ricky

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Reply with quote  #29 
I live at PNW as well, our cool summer is big problem for fig tree,  I have seen many fig trees here, Figs do not ripening at fall or not sweet, My brother has a fig tree for 20 years with bland breba figs, Last year, weather was warmer, it was able to ripening its main crop in 20 year, it was delicious, my point is that, Do you think that it is smart to wait for 20 years for sweet figs?

Here are cuttings from " Charles" last year both from potted fig tree and in gorund , They has many great looking breba, good tree for our area.
(Do not prune your tree at early spring, it reduces breba fig and grows more new branches)
(Do not uppot them at early spring before sprouts, it reduces breba fig as well, roots wake up first, it sucks young tree limited stored energy to grow more roots instead of fig)

[Desert_King_Breba_1] 
Same fig tree, it is 2nd branch, Top tip was eated by squirrel at early spring, it grows lots of new branches
[Desert_king_breba_2] 
[Desert_king_breba3] 




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TahomaGuy2

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Reply with quote  #30 
Real nice pics! Wonderful testimony on Desert King brebas in our PNW.
I sent you cuttings that had energy packed terminal buds that were eager to "fig out."  
So happy for you!

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-Charles
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kiwibob

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Reply with quote  #31 
Amanda,

My two cents worth:  Your problem getting Breba production is all in how you prune your Figs!  Brebas are formed only on the previous season's wood, and most Brebas form on the tip half of that wood.  Your Desert King photos appear to show all branches that grew in 2016 pruned back to less than half of their length, hence NO or very few Brebas!  See the pruning video on Ben's site:
http://seattlegardenfruit.blogspot.com/2017/04/how-to-prune-desert-king-fig-for-max.html
The only 1-year old branches Linda shortened were ones that had minor tip die-back.

No need for Winter protection in your climate, so don't baby them.

Also, if it were me, I would toss the Peter's Honey as it requires too much heat to reliably produce Brebas in your climate.  Select varieties that reliably produce a good Breba crop, and change your pruning habits.

Happy Growing,   kiwibob, Seattle

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aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #32 
Yeah, I definitely am not interested in having a tree that only gives good figs every 20 years!  I did not know that about not uppotting or pruning in the early spring.  I did prune mine in early spring, but I think it was probably a good thing since I am trying to promote branching and develop the structure of these baby trees...more important than fig production at this point.  I was just getting ready to uppot some of them.  They're not rootbound, but I figured most of them could use more growing room.  Is now an OK time to do this?  I've already got full sized leaves and mini brebas going on most of them.  And I think root growth is probably more important than fig growth at this time as well.  Do you agree?
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Amanda
Oregon, Zone 8b
Growing:  Desert King, Peter's Honey, Latarulla, Atreano, Conadria, Stella, Negronne, Vern's Brown Turkey, Black Spanish
jrdewhirst

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Reply with quote  #33 
IMO, you can up-pot anytime so long as you don't badly disturb the roots.  Given more space for roots, the tree may briefly focus its energy there, so vegetative growth and fruit may be temporarily discouraged or delayed.  But I agree with you that growing out the roots is Job #1.

Honestly I see no reason to up-pot in baby steps.  My cuttings started in December / January are in 5g pots by late March / April.  Given an adequate supply of big enough pots, I plan to move the 1st year cuttings to 10-15g pots as soon as possible.

But I remain concerned about something more fundamental -- rate of growth.  How are your potted trees not root bound?  Once my new cuttings show good roots in a cup, they typically fill a 1.5 g pot within a month or so, then a 5 g pot within a couple months after that, then definitely a 10 g pot by the end of their first summer.  

Like I said, I'm not really familiar with your varieties, other than DK.  But my reading notes (based on comments by others) led me to avoid Stella / Dalmatie as a weak grower.  There aren't many varieties that I decided not to grow based on feedback from others, but this is one.

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Joe D
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ricky

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Reply with quote  #34 
Hi, Charles, Those "Desert king" are from your cuttings, They are great.

Amanda, As long as you know what you are doing, It is fine, your have a beautiful looking fig tree.

I guess that early spring fig tree pruning,  it suppress breba crop or encourage new branches/ main crop on that pruned branch.

I agree with Charles that " Negronne" grows well in our area, It is 24" tall fig tree from last year tiny toothpick size cutting
[Negonne_fig_tree_2017_May_11] 

This cold winter, due to micro climate of cold wind, It top kill all in ground fig trees
Mother nature prune my latarulla, no breba at all, I am hoping that it grows some main crop later
[lattura_2017_top_killed_may_11] 












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aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #35 
jrdewhirst, I've had to spend the last few days, so many hours, trying to untangle my fig mislabeling disaster.  Thought I'd gotten it taken care of in the fall, but it just became apparent that they were still wrong.  Also, as I pulled out some plants to inspect the roots, I could tell that I had repotted some of them in the fall.  I'm now keeping prolific notes on everything.  In short, I'm not worried about growth.  But I am worried about fig production, and I think this might be Stella's last year, sadly since I went to the trouble of air layering her last year.  Not a single breba.  I've got 3 Conadrias (air layered 2 branches last year), and I do have 2 figs on one right now.  So I may give that one 2 years.  Peter's Honey I think I'll move to the South side of the house (all other containers are west facing).  Maybe that will help its figs ripen.  I'll give it another few years.  I feel like it may have produced a couple that I've forgotten about.  Again, I have up till now been a terrible documentarian.  My air layered container Desert King is doing just as well as the in ground DK--this is one of the best varieties to grow in the PNW.  Everything else was kind of a crap-shoot....most I bought because they had them at local nurseries (including One Green World), and I hoped that meant they would grow well here.  Lattarula and Atreano are also supposed to do well here, and indeed my containers of both young plants already have plenty of brebas.  Now I"m going to get a Neverella at Charles' suggestion.   I'd like to try a Grantham's Royal, but getting my hands on one will be the problem.  Anyway, thanks for your input!
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Amanda
Oregon, Zone 8b
Growing:  Desert King, Peter's Honey, Latarulla, Atreano, Conadria, Stella, Negronne, Vern's Brown Turkey, Black Spanish
aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #36 
Kiwibob, I intentionally pruned that DK down knowing I'd lose a lot of brebas.  I'm more interested in developing the structure this year.  And probably next.  I'm going to try Peter's Honey on a south facing wall (instead of West where it lived last year).  Where I live south of Portland, it's warmer than it gets in Seattle, so maybe I can pull it off.  I'll give it a couple years before I discard it.  I'll probably toss my Stellas at the end of the season though, unless they manage to ripen something--lots of unripe figs last year, no brebas.  Conadria...we'll see, I'll give it one or two years maybe.  Getting a Neverella that should do well in our climate, and if you have any leads on a Grantham's Royal, please let me know!  :)
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Amanda
Oregon, Zone 8b
Growing:  Desert King, Peter's Honey, Latarulla, Atreano, Conadria, Stella, Negronne, Vern's Brown Turkey, Black Spanish
jrdewhirst

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Reply with quote  #37 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aldaigle
But I am worried about fig production


I'm fairly new at this and still learning too.  One thing that seems apparent is that breba production may depend on the age and size of the tree.  For example, I have a 1-yr-old cutting of Laradek's EBT.  English Brown Turkeys have a reputation for great breba production.  My tiny little tree (~54" of branches) started out with 28 breba buds -- basically one at almost every leaf node.  At this point, there are 2 healthy-looking brebas.  The rest dropped.  This doesn't surprise me -- I never expected a tiny tree to ripen 28 good brebas.  On the other hand, I do expect more than 2 brebas next year.

Other varieties / trees did something similar but on a smaller scale.  For example, LSU Gold had 3-5 breba buds on each 6-8" branch.  Now those are whittled down to 0-2 each.  

I think the trees are adjusting the crop load to their resources.  Presumably, older potted trees with more roots and bigger branches would be able to support more fruit.  In-ground trees with extensive root systems should support the most, if properly pruned.

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Joe D
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aldaigle

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Reply with quote  #38 
Age and size--that's the variable that seems a little tricky.  I've had Stella for 3.5 years, it's grown really well, but not ripened any figs.  Charles says that his current best producer took 10 years before producing anything!  How to know when to quit and move on??  I'll be sure to do more thorough researching before tossing anything out.  

That is a bummer to lose 26 brebas, even if you're expecting it.  I accidentally knocked off one mine today...aagh.  I have 46 brebas between my 14 trees at this point, and probably won't get too many more.  Every one counts at this stage!

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Amanda
Oregon, Zone 8b
Growing:  Desert King, Peter's Honey, Latarulla, Atreano, Conadria, Stella, Negronne, Vern's Brown Turkey, Black Spanish
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