What makes figs fall off before they are ripe?

WestEnder(z7 Atlanta GA)March 29, 2006

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.

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Squierels take it away completelly in my yard.They will take a bite from a peach but they will carry away the fig.If he has a lot of squierels arround that is it.He can install a net over and hope for the best.Also get a good terrier dog,and that will help.Fig tree need to spread out.If they are not on ground something is taking them away.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 5:59PM
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I woild gues that they dont just dissappear - they are either falling into the lawn or something is eating them.

I wonder if the variety needs caprification? If so - then it has never borne ripe fruit. So asking if he has ever had fruit from the tree would solve that question (one fo rthe experts - would a spray with gibberrelic acid - blossom set - solve this problem? I beleive this is used for getting large seedless grapes and is in products for early tomatoes).

If the fruits are falling off, the link below has some causes of fruit failure.

If something is eating them, certainly dogs or cats could help. Also, bird netting (they have it at local garden centers here - probably in your area as well).

I suppose that the branch tying could have a role but unless someone else does that, there isnt likely to be an answer.

The tree could be in the shade.

It might be getting too much nitrogen. If he is an avid gardener, he might be overfeeding it or the lawn around it.

Hoipefully these suggestions will help & others may also have more.

Best wishes


Here is a link that might be useful: page down - causes of fruit failure in figs.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 6:57AM
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Same thing happened to me...just bought a house last summer with a fig tree in the back yard. Went out last weekend to check and had at least a hundred figs in the tree, some just starting to turn purple. Went out of town all week and thought I'd pick them this weekend but when I got home yesterday every single one of them was gone. Nothing on the ground, top branches, nothing at all. Live right next to a green belt with raccoons and opossums in it, plus have a ton of squirrels and birds in the neighborhood...but nothing on the ground or even a half eaten one anywhere...very mysterious.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 2:53PM
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