What makes figs fall off before they are ripe?
I've never seen this happen, myself. But I've been asked to research this problem for an older gentleman who is a member of a community garden I just joined. He has a medium size (about 8 feet tall) fig tree in his yard that he says leafs out every spring and produces lots of baby figs. But before the figs get ripe, they all disappear. He says this has been happening every year for at least 3 years. He says he does not find the figs on the ground, nor does he see them pecked to pieces on the tree, as I think he would see if birds were eating them. He doesn't think squirrels are the culprit, either, because squirrels usually tend to take a bite and leave the rest (I can vouch for that; I've seen them do it.)
I searched earlier postings on this forum and found these possible answers: overfertilization; overwatering; too hot; figs need to be thinned; raccoons and opossums. Someone also mentioned that Brown Turkey figs also often drop fruit. We don't know what variety this fig tree is.
He would like to know what he can do at this early time in the season to prevent this from happening again this year. I thought I'd tell him not to fertilize at all, if he has been doing so; not to water more than once or twice a week; and to watch out for other types of animals. I don't think there's much he can do about the heat here in Georgia, and I doubt that's the answer, as plenty of other people have no problem at all growing figs here. His tree is in a sunny location but it's not unusually sunny and hot.
Should I advise that he thin them? There are tiny baby figs appearing now. If so, when would he do that, and how many should he remove?
One thing I did notice about this man's fig tree, that I thought was a little unusual, is that he has all the trunk stems tied fairly tightly together. I don't know why, except that he seems to like to control the plants in his yard and garden. Could that possibly have anything to do with the figs falling off? All the fig bushes I had seen before with multiple stems just branched out and spread over a wide area. Do they need to spread out, and could he be stressing the tree by tying it together like that?
Thanks very much for any advice you can offer.