Fig tree huge cracks/splits in bark

Formula1raiderFebruary 25, 2014

I have a very sick fig tree that I am afraid is dying or possible already dead. I will upload pictures later today but I as so worried about it I thought I would seek some advise and possible answers. It is a large fig tree about 15ft high by 20-25ft span and was on the property of the house I bought in 2007 and was very vibrant with huge green leaves every year and a strong producer of sweet figs that were about 2-3 inches in diameter. I cant say exactly what type of fig tree it is since I never planted it. I am in central Texas zone 8a. I image this tree has been here for over 20 years.
Never had a problem with it producing or putting out new leaves every year and seemed like it grew out every year. Last winter I had to do some pretty good pruning, to keep the limbs off the ground and from hitting the car in the driveway. It was a good amount to shape the tree but not excessive. That spring it put out as normal and did bear fruit...although I did notice it was not as much as usual.
Winter came, it lost its leaves as normal, and about 3 weeks ago I went to do some clean up pruning before spring and noticed that the snipers seemed to brake them off instead of cut (as if the end limbs were completely dry and dead). Then I noticed that all over the main trunk and almost every major limb there are huge cracks/splits in the them. Parallel with the limbs (longways) and they are pretty major. Almost 3/4-1" deep in a 5" branch.
It looks as if the tree just was sucked out of ALL its moisture and is now dry/dead and cracked. Branches snap off and don't have any flexibility. I don't understand how this could happen so fast. I rarely water it because it has been here for so many years and was never watered in the past but on occasion in the heat of summer and drought we experienced in Texas over the past couple of years I did do some deep watering a few times.
Did this happen because of lack of watering? Or sunscald since I pruned it back the year before?
I am very sad because this tree was the pride of my property.
Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Could the tree have been frozen this winter? Was it more cold than usual in your location?

I would expect a tree that large to survive even a bad freeze, at least the roots and maybe the largest trunks. Prune out all the dead wood, see what happens as it warms up.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 10:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was a pretty cold winter....with temperatures around 18-25 for a couple of days however 3 years before that it seemed even colder and it had no problem. I am with you, for a tree this size and for how long it has been there its hard to believe cold killed it. This year has seen large swings of temperature from cold to warm.
I will post a picture later today but from looking on the internet my fig tree looks to be a: Texas Everbearing "brown turkey" variety.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 11:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a large Celeste that was here when we bought the house. It froze 3 years ago,no fruit. It has had large damaged areas on big limbs for years. It still bore fruit. Last week we had to cut a large dead limb to the ground. And prune a few branches. I got several cuttings to put in pots and 2 nice size rooted limbs dug up. There are 2 other large branches I plan to cut down, after fruiting.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 1:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The winter weather has been horrible, and the cracks may very well be from the freezing-thawing cycles, but then again, maybe not since the tree is growing in the same location without problems for years. But it does sound as if the tree suffered damages from the cold.

Your bigger concern at this point is what to do about it. If the tree is not dead, do nothing....yet. Wait for the tree to break dormancy, wait for the tree to send out new buds on the older wood, THEN cut out all the dead, weakened, and split branches. Fig trees can grow a new canopy in a few seasons. Establish a basic design of main branches, and go from there. If some essential, still living branches have splits, try closing the splits with stainless steel screws, or, use stainless-steel, threaded rod with some small washers and nuts on each end. Drill right through the limb, insert the thread rod section, then add a washer and nut on each end, and tighten enough to close the crack(s).

I hope your story has a happy ending. Good luck.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 7:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It Is frost Damage.
Frank advice is right on.
I have some cracks in my trees this year,too,and had in the past.
Not a problem tree will grow back in one year if a healthy type.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 4:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lkyoder(9b San Diego East County)

I'm in southern California, chaparral area, 2K feet and just realized I have the exact same issue with my fig tree: huge splits, cracks in the wood, tree appears dead. It's not frost: a nearby tomato plant is still going after weathering (no pun intended) the winter, which was bizarrely warm. (My jacaranda, which normally blooms in June, was dropping flowers in January!)

It looks like the fig barely started to put out new growth and then crashed: the little buds are dry and crumble away.

Could the incredibly erratic weather this winter be the culprit? Seems like there was an intense cold spell (but generally above freezing) in Fall, followed by long stretches of warm--like my jacaranda, lots of plants were confused.

I have several silver dollar eucalyptus that also appear to be dead or dying; I'm guessing it's longhorn beetle, but maybe the weird weather was the first step in making them vulnerable?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 6:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have a fig tree over 50 years old it was cut down to a stump 12 years ago by the contractors building a new house after the 2014 freeze I noticed in July the fig tree is now 1/2 dead.

My Mom said it will start growing agan next year.

We live in a town near Atlanta GA

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 8:00AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
I think I poisoned all my new baby figs :/
I had decided to lightly fertilize all my new batch...
Rooting Question
Hello All - I am trying to root some fig cuttings....
Cincinnati, OH Hardy chicago fig Hardy chicago fig 2015
The picture below is carried over from last year. Hardy...
Steve, Micro (6B ground, 5B roof)
Looking for Cuttings
Hi All. Been looking for fig cuttings. I have 2 Chicago...
tobybul2 - Zone 6 SW MI
I am Phil from Northern Ohio.
I am here amongst many very good fig friends and I...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™