Closed eye varieties

bonsaist(Z6/ Bethlehem, Pa)March 30, 2010

No doubt that closed eye varieties are suitable for the humid and rainy climates. Many beginners find it hard to find a list of closed eye varieties. In your experience which varieties do you know have a closed eye?

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my strawberry verte has a closed eye.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 9:36PM
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genecolin(Zone 9, LA)

Of course the Belle of the South "Celeste" is the local favorite in Louisiana because of it's closed eye and sweetness.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:17PM
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Now you have touched upon a subject matter that is dear to me and at the very heart of my fig research activities. One of my main goals is to find the BEST cultivars for growing in the rainy, hot, humid climate of South Louisiana. I am currently studying the growing and fruiting characteristics of many different cultivars and several hundred in-ground fig trees.

A century ago, fig trials were conducted at the test orchards at LSU (still on going to this day) and Celeste was hands down determined to be the BEST fig for growing in my area. That's because of its excellent taste, good cooking qualities, rain tolerance, and its bug resistance due to its completely CLOSED eye. A closed eyed fig will not allow water or bugs entrance to the inside of a fig through the eye. A fig that is bug resistant will not sour very easily while it it on the tree.

Years ago there was a thriving fig preserving and canning industry here in south Louisiana. Most of the figs sold to these canning facilities were Celeste figs. Celeste, however, bears only ONE MAIN CROP of figs that usually ripens between July 1st through mid to late August. Indeed this is a very short operating time frame for any industry. The infant canning industry in Louisiana needed a larger supply of fig fruit over an extended period of time to increase profitability and to help meet the ever increasing demand for their product. In steps Dr. O'Rourke from LSU.... he received some State funding and set a goal to support the fig canning industry by developing new fig varieties that maintained all of the good qualities of the Celeste cultivar. His intent was to try to "improve" upon the productivity of the well established Celeste cultivar. It is no wonder that he choose to start with two very good tasting CLOSED EYED figs (Celeste and Hunt)for the mother fig trees in his fig breeding program. All of the LSU bred figs originated from either a Hunt or Celeste mother tree.

So........Dr. O'Rourke's fig breeding program was undertaken to support the fig preserve and canning industry. This is in contrast to Condit's fig breeding program. Condit was trying to develop other fig cultivars that were suitable for DRYING in supplement or replace the light colored Calimyrna cultivar in the dried fig market. Both breeding programs were funded to support the needs of the processed fig industry. Both programs were successful in introducing some new cutlivars to world.

These seems to be some confusion as what constitutes an open or closed eye. Here is some ramblings of mine that I posted in another thread:

"The eye of a fig is located at the apex of the fig. Its size has nothing to do with it being "open" or "closed". The size of an eye is determined by its outward appearance on the fig's skin surface. It is a measurement of the WIDTH of the fig's eye. It can be a small, medium, or large eyed. 'Open or closed' is a reference to the condition of the eye's outside OPENING leading to the interior pulp of the fig. Both water and/or insects can move through a fig's eye opening and do some damage. Insects carry yeast organisms on their body to the interior of a fig causing it to ferment and turn sour. Water that enters a fig will dilute its sweetness and flavor and make it easier to ferment and/or split. Figs that absorb water often swell too fast causing tender skins to tear and split before they are fully ripe. These skin tears and splits then provide another route to the inside of a fig for those nasty souring bugs and insects to use and ruin the fig.

Some fig eyes are sealed with RESIN (Alma) and others are sealed with thick HONEY (Italian Honey) or a very thick near solid HONEY (Cajun Honey). Honey and resin are not chemically the same material and each reacts to water differently. Resin is NOT SOLUBLE in rain or water while honey is VERY SOLUBLE. So........resin sealed eyes block both water and insect entrance to the fig's sweet pulp and this type eye sealant is very durable.

Some fig eyes, on the other hand, are sealed with thick honey (Italian Honey). Honey too will block the entrance of the fig's eye to those souring insects. Thick honey will also will prevent some rainwater from getting inside. THICK honey that blocks the entrance hole is so high in sugar content that it CANNOT BE FERMENTED even if visited by insects carrying yeast organisms. Pure honey MUST BE DILUTED with rain or water BEFORE any fermentation can occcur. Honey sealed eyes are not as durable as resin sealed eyes because honey is very soluble in water. Once rain dilutes the honey (sugar concentration) and reopens the entrance to a fig's can then be attacked by yeast organisms that are carried on insects that can now go inside. Yeast thus introduced will cause the honey sugars to ferment and turn the fig sour. eyed honey sealed figs cannot take HEAVY rains but often can tolerate a moderate amount. Heavy rains can and will eventually dissolve the honey blockage and make the opening available to those insects and allow further water entrance. Honey sealed open eyed figs do very well in dry climates and often can handle some light to medium rains without any adverse problems. Whether the fig eye HANGS UP OR DOWN can make a difference.

A COMPLETELY closed tight-eyed fig (some strains of Celeste) is one that has no entrance at all to the inside of the fig. It is the ultimate fig eye seal and is a very desirable characteristic for any fig growing in a hot, humid, rainy climate. However, we should keep in mind that there are some resin and honey eye sealed figs that can do quite well (like Alma, Italian Honey, and LSU Gold for instance) that are worth having in a fig collection even in a hot, humid, rainy area."


Last season I noticed that breba, main crop, and second or third crops fig eyes can be different during each particular fig crop. I never paid much attention that before, but intend to do a better job at that this year. I expect to be an expert on this subject matter one day.........


    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 4:18PM
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Totally closed eye does not exist!
_Some figs have when ripe a very small open eye wich measure,from:.5 to 1 mm. They stop insects from going in .EX:Celeste,Gino's fig,Mission,Malta black,143-36,Scott's black,LSU Purple
These are usually refered as closed eye varieties.
_Then there are small eye varieties,wich have an eye from 1 to 2 mm ,and solid interior,EX:Verte,Hardy Chicago,Sal (both),Marseilles vs black,Stela,Paradiso Gene,Atreano,Tacoma violett,etc
Almost no souring, Only in the haviest,rain,and only very few,and far apart.Insects do not get in.
_And third come the open, large eye,that is open only at the surface and solid,(interior) immediatelly after about 1mm deep.
These are just as good in rainy climates as closed eye fig.
EX:English Brown Turkey,DFIC 17 ucd,Guilbeau,Sweet Georg, Weeping Fig,Late Black
_The forth is the open eye that closes down before ripe with a plug of clear amber. Also doing well in rain.
EX:Alma,LSU Gold
_Last,are the open eye figs,that have large eye and a large interior cavity,that comunicates with the entrance hole.
These are very bad in rainy climates.
EX:Brunswick,California Brown Turkey.Will sour very easily from any small precipitation,or humid day.

Insects will get inside any time trough the eye.
Fig black beetle love this type of fruits to congragate inside.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 5:00PM
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I will not argue with your fig trial observations as you are very observant about the cultivars that you grow. Likewise, I am very observant too and likely will have much more to say about the eye characteristics of the cultivars that I grow after I've had a few more years of observation.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 5:21PM
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Dan:I posted this last post coping it from the other fig Forum.
Celeste is the closest eye of any variety,I agree with you.
It is just when I looked with a magnifing glass I could see a very minuscule opening that is not seen with a naked eye.
That is why I said that even the closed eye varieties have a very small minuscule opening.
Of course it is a huge difference between a few microns,and 6 mm,that some varieties have.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 6:46PM
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Very good information Dan and Herman--with the rain we can have here, mostly closed or sealed eyes are important. Glad to know I can count on my Celeste, Hunt, and Alma. Peter's Honey has an eye blocked by what I think is thick honey. Sticks pretty well thru light rains.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:32PM
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Bass, thanks for starting this thread. Dan and Vasile, you guys are a walking wealth of information. Varieties that are rain tolerant are very important to my area here as well. Tim

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 9:55AM
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No question about small/(closed...) eyed figs being desired
for humid/insect coditions.

But let us not forget that that eye (hole) has a very
important function for the fig fruit. At the right time
that is where the famous fig-wasp exits (caprifig) and
enters (common fig) to do its thing, aka caprifation
and therby us having that many differnt fig fruits.

As for the Brunswicks, I think it is more than just
the eye? I think the skin itself acts like a "sponge"
to moisture and making sour it so easy while-ripening.

As for insects, I (only) have 2 kinds of annoying ants;
not knowing the names:
(a) 1-2 mm long small golden colored little buggers
(b) 2-3 mm long black colored other suckers.
Even if the eye is "zipped", they tend to tunnel thru
the skin for that sweet juice inside...

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 8:06PM
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I also have no more fig beetle from when I stopped growing Brunswick.
But I did have them on Brunswick.
They are very small almost round beetle bugs,that one will find inside the fruit when the fruit is opened up.
They are shorter than a small ant but round like a half ball,and black.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 9:32PM
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A few more variables that have to do with fig "splitting" and souring.....are the THICKNESS and/or ELASTICITY of a fig's skin and whether or not the fig tree is growing in very moist soil when the figs are actually ripening. Not all fig skins have the same physical characteristics. The skins can be quite different between different cultivars....and can react differently to rain/water as George stated.

Col de Dame White has a very thick skin (and a small fairly tight eye). Turns out that Col de Dame is one of the most rain tolerant figs that I have growing in my collection. It has fruited well for me during periods of very heavy rains AND with accumulated water beneath the tree!! The figs did not split and did not seem to absorb much water to dilute the taste. Perhaps this is because of it having the combination of small eyed and thick skinned figs.

Col de Dame White is a late season fig and my gulf coast climate appears to be long and sufficiently hot enough to ripen this fig to perfection. CdD-W is THE best tasting fig in my collection. It is rain tolerant, bug resistant, and extends my fresh fig season late into the year.... which I like. However, the verdict is still out on its productivity.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 10:04PM
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