Saturday, June 02, 2012

Backyard Orchard Culture: Stimulate fig crop

This is how you stimulate fig trees to initiate fall crop. It's very easy. If I don't do this, I barely get any fall figs. If I do, the trees are stimulated to make lots of figs - then it's a matter of weather permitting. I think the growing tip produces hormones that prevent figs from growing at the leaf nodes. By snapping off the growing tip, the hormonal inhibition is stopped, and soon a fig will start to form at each leaf node. I do this when the new branches are at 4 or 5 leaves. I try to do it early, so I get figs before the weather is too cool and days too short in the fall to sweeten the figs. I used to use a scissors for this, but they snap so easily, scissors are not necessary. Some references refer to this as pinching", but I don't pinch, I bend the tip and it easily snaps off.

This tree is Hardy Chicago. Almost all of the breba figs fell off. That doesn't bother me too much, because several other fig trees promise a big breba crop this year. Since it's not making figs now, the branches are growing fast, and it's time to plan for the fall crop.
Find the branch growing tips.
The place to snap off the growth is just below the little leaf forming at the end. Just bend over the tip, and it snaps off. No cutting or pinching is needed - just snap.
The tip will ooze white latex sap for a few hours. I don't think that hurts anything. Some people have allergic reactions to the latex, so I wouldn't get carried away until after snapping one or two and waiting a day to see if there is a reaction. I don't worry about it, and have never had a problem, so I snap all of the tips that I see, that have 3 or 4 or 5 leaves. This technique limits tree size, and stimulates compact branching, as well as stimulating a crop. It works for the fall crop (main crop) if snapping is done in early summer. I don't do it for the spring (breba) crop because I don't want figs to form before winter rains and frost.

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