Pruning Desert King

pylot(usda 9b sunset 17)March 11, 2010

Any advice on how to prune a Desert King fig? I want to keep it under 7 ft tall. I was thinking of using summer pruning to keep it small, but if I remove half of each new growth in summer, I'm not sure it will create new shoots for the next year's breba crop. Or should I just cut it now at about 10in above ground in order to create multiple trunks? Right now it has one trunk about 30 in tall with no branches, and the buds just starting to swell.

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This is going to sound kind of silly but then I am kind of a silly guy: Other then taking the advice that lots of people will give you on pinching back buds, pruning is usually expo facto. That is the tree does whatever the heck it wants during the growing season then you spank it after it goes dormant in the fall/winter.

But yes, pinch buds that are going to grow where you don't want them. Pinch bud tips after new growth gets ~6 leaves long to encourage bushy growth/compact growth pattern. Don't worry about pruning shears and limb loppers until the fall when you correct what the tree did wrong with less danger of killing it. It's just a mind set. Keep telling the tree "All dogs have their day" and "You'll get yours come November" and let it go until then. hehe


    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 3:23PM
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For areas with no pollination wasps, Desert King is grown only for the first crop (breba) that ripens in early summer. So, in my view, the better time to prune Desert King will be right after harvesting the breba crop. There will be plenty of summer left for growing shoots with next year breba embryo.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 5:05PM
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Ottawan advice is good for trees with only a main crop.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 7:51PM
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Ottawan is right. If you cut it now 10" above the ground you wont get any figs this year.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 10:20PM
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pylot(usda 9b sunset 17)

Thanks for the comments! I realize that if I cut it at 10" now I won't get any figs this year, but this is not so important (plus I would only get 5-6 at the most, the tree being just a stick). What I care more is keeping the tree at a reasonable height, and I've heard that Desert King is very vigorous, with branches reaching 6 ft long. So I'm not sure if summer pruning is enough to keep the tree small, or if I should just try to grow it as a multiple trunk bush. In the latter case, I'd have to cut it low at some point, and when I do that I would lose the breba crop anyway. Unless I cut it in the middle of the summer, but I'm not sure how the tree would react to such a drastic pruning (10 in above ground so no leaves left) when it's not dormant.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 11:52AM
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If you are not worried about losing this years figs I would prune it now. I have a similar decision to make every year and I choose to keep the figs. Consequently my tree is not as productive as it should be. Yes I find DK is one of my gaster growers.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 11:56AM
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Hi Pylot,
im not familar with these types of trees, i have 2 santa cruz darks that reportedly only ripen breba crop fig wasp needed for 2nd. There young.
Anyways if thats truly the case having 2 plants if its feasible for you , you can keep them in check ,one year get your crop then prune, and do the same alternating the 2 trees. Each year 1 will give the crop while the tree's are kept in check.
Im going to try this unless the figs dont taste good then they have to go.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 12:43PM
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My advice to you is just to brake off the top tip,again,and again,for now.
Your tree is too young for prunning.
By braking off the terminul top buds,the plant will grow branches.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 2:59PM
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There is another option but it depend on the current tree shape and size.
I started my Desert King plant in the winter of 2008 (thanks Herman) and in the summer of 2009 I found that the plant looked like a 5~6 ft tall date palm tree with branches only at the top 1/3. This will not happen to any of my new trees. So, I air-layered the top branched part at the desirable height. The top part became a nicely branched small tree (hoping some breba this year) and the bottom part started new shoots that I hope will grow big in the summer of 2010 to fruit in 2011.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 12:33AM
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