[NAFEX] Quests for Figs, oiling for faster ripening

Richard Moyer ramoyer at gmail.com
Fri Nov 25 17:14:35 EST 2005

*Steve's location in Wisconsin:*
*"USDA zone 3 (with pretty good summer heat)"
**As long as you can keep the roots from freezing (heavy mulch or bringing
indoors), AND you have adequate heat for ripening, figs are possible in most
of the temperate US.  We did the potted thing for a while, but having a
lesser constitution than folks such as Miekal, gave up schlepping the
plants.  But is a good way to warm the roots earlier.*
*Hence we've restricted ourselves to those figs that bear on one year old
wood, and can ripen such fruit as the nights grow cooler.  Helps to provide
a warm microclimate, to keep the nighttime temps up a bit.*
*We've settled on Chicago Hardy as a fig that buds out in late May/early
June, and ripens figs as early at late August or as late as end of Sept on
new wood.  At our elevation, o**ur hottest summer season averages mid 80
highs and lows of mid 60s.  Into the low 90s very rarely.  Much of the upper
US states match or exceed these summer highs.*
*Those of you who've noted (nutritional?) failures with CH, we've never
fertilized ours, other than several feet of hardwood leaves in the fall for
winter insulation and summer (de)compost.  *
*Have seen Breba figs locally (those borne on last years wood), after a mild
winter, on a bush that looks like Brunswick, that ripen in July.  But
quality less than Chicago Hardy here, unless size the primary goal.*
*Some figs with a closed eye respond well to oiling, a method to hasten
ripening by several weeks.  Apply food grade oil to ends of full-sized, dark
green figs.  Leave an untreated branch of figs to note the increase in
ripening time of the oiled figs.  We get CH into November this way, even
after outer parts of the trees have frozen.*
*(Ray Givan, in SFF newsletter, recently noted that Chicago Hardy did not
respond well to oiling, at his coastal Georgia conditions).  But we see
enough of a difference for me to draft students or my kids to oil
the figs each year.  *
*For those of you willing to give CH another try, consider a hotter
microclimate, and hastening ripening with oil.*
*Richard Moyer*
*1800 ft.  USDA Heat Zone 6, East TN*
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