Figs fall off before ripening

BruceintexasApril 7, 2012

I have a fig tree that was brought to central Texas as a root stock from my father in law in Alabama. The original tree bore fruit in AL. Variety unknown.

The tree in TX is on a well-drained,south facing slope gets watered with my lawn and is in the sun much of the day. Over the past five years it has gotten over 20 ft tall and has a very good shape. It appears to be very healthy, good leaf color, thick foliage, no dead limbs, winters well, etc. It looks much better than the original AL tree.

It puts on a great many figs every year.

The fruit gets to about 1/3 full size and then every fig will turn yellow and fall off. I have never gotten a single fig from the tree.

Any solutions?

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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Hi Bruceintexas,

Is it a Celeste fig tree?

Where in TX are you located and what kind of soil/climate do you have there?

Thanks,

noss

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 10:55PM
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bronxfigs

Is premature fruit drop a characteristic of "Celeste"? Thanks for letting us know. Now I will avoid this variety.

Frank

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 6:43PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Hi Frank,

Yes, many Celestes drop fruit in very hot weather and when it's dry. Didn't used to be like that down here, that I ever noticed. The trees I had many years ago didn't drop fruit and now I wish I still had that strain. Still, it may be that it's too hot, but other people have said their Celestes drop fruit all over the country.

Herman said he thinks the Celestes are not completely parthenocopic and that's why they drop fruit.
Parthenocopic means that the tree can ripen all of its fruit without any pollination by the fig wasp. I think he may be right about that.

I have also observed that the Celestes that are large and tucked into a corner of the yard behind tall board fencing seem to do well because the root zones are always shaded, both by the tree as well as the fencing.

It's hotter here than it used to be and more dry as well, which is why I have looked for other varieties that don't tend to drop their fruit. As much as I love Celeste figs, I'd rather have trees that keep their fruit on them.

noss

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 10:41PM
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bronxfigs

noss...

Thanks for the information about the "Celeste" variety. What a heart-breaker that must be to see a crop of figs laying on the grass. The first time for me would be the last time. Too many other good varieties....why waste the time? Not me.

To each his own. I agree with the last sentence you posted.

Frank

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 8:25PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Hi Frank,

It is indeed a heartbreaker to see the figlets growing so beautifully and suddenly, they start to yellow and then begin to fall.

Jon has said that he grows Celestes, many different strains, in CA, but I don't know what kind of climate he's in. I've read they aren't good for hot/dry climates. It may be that sort of climate makes them really drop their fruit. Don't know.

Wish I had some answers,

noss

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 11:06PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

I misspelled the word parthenocarpic. Sorry about that. Don't know where my head was. Can't make corrections on GW.

noss

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 11:53PM
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JaneRK

Neither of my fig trees bear many figs. One is not in an ideal place for sun and it usually gets cold (PA) before the figs ripen. They are never large.GOOD when I get them! The other tree gets a lot more sun, but fig production is about the same. They came from a tree that bore lots of fruit. I guess FULL sun is the answer?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 8:50PM
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budbackeast(FLORIDA)

Now hold on there Tex!

Before you go and throw away that fig tree, please try something easy. Prune the bejeebers out of that tree. Just lop off the top third of the tree, then cut the tips off of half of the limbs. Pruning is the key to tasty figs on trees which look good but don't cooperate.

Your tree looks so fine because it is putting all of it's energy into growth. When growth is curtailed, it sorta panics and starts getting 'reproductive'. Sorta like my... um, better not go there.

Your tree is alive and having fun and cannot be bothered with babies. But put a hurtin' on it and you might just have the best fig tree in Texas!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 10:13PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Bud,

That makes it REALLY sound like a Celeste to me! :)

noss

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 12:54AM
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budbackeast(FLORIDA)

Hi Noss,

Im from New Orleans myself, and we always had a fig tree in the back yard when I was a kid. It's still there, pruned by Katrina, but still huge and very fruitful. Pruning was the key to crop abundance for us.

Some years, we'd get a weak crop and my dad, in anger, would cut it back to get it out of the way. Next year, at half the size, it would produce a huge crop of very tasty fruit. Dad never did catch on to the pruning connection.

Now, here in Florida, thanks to generous Greeks, I have 7 trees in the ground and three new cuttings of new varieties waiting to be potted. Once established, I promise to continuously abuse the trees a bit to stimulate them on to figgy abundance.

Bruceintexas might wish to prune rather than kill. Just my opinion.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 9:49PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Hi Bud,

It don't make no difference what I do to my Celestes, the hot, dry weather hits and they drop. It doesn't matter if I water leading up to the new season and keep on putting the water to them. It doesn't matter if I prune the things, they then put all their energy into growing, putting on figs and then drop most of them. It doesn't matter if I feed them, or don't feed them. I tell them if they drop their figs one more season, I'll rip them out and put a different variety in their places. They drop and I can't bring myself to rip them out because one was from a friend who moved away and that tree was from a tree from the house she grew up in. Her name is, Legacy. Not my friend--The tree. The one out back is sort of a legacy because it came from North Louisiana and the tree it came from was from the man's father's tree. Her name is Celeste--The tree out back. (Very original, eh?)

I don't know what I'm doing, or not doing that may be causing this problem, but quite a few people have told me it's the heat and dry weather we've been getting here the past years.

The only thing I haven't tried is overhead sprinkling. A woman told me she waters her trees often and the sprinklers are those on a pole that throws the water out over the trees. I've been watering mine with a sprinkler on a trickle for several hours at a time so the water won't be wasted and it will soak the ground around the tree.

There will be one more pruning next season and after that, I will let the tree grow on its own. No more bird netting, or anything. It can just do its thing. The birds and squirrels will love that.

noss

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 2:20AM
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budbackeast(FLORIDA)

Hi Noss,

I do not know anything about your particular variety of fig tree, called Celeste. Are they always so frustrating? How could they even exist if they do not easily and readily fruit, for nobody would have created a variety which does not satisfy. Very strange.

Reading thru the forums, there are indeed some trees of all varieties which just will not cooperate. Maybe you have one of them. A decade ago had one with a similar problem, and it was a "Brown Turkey Figdropper" variety. Grrrr! I gave it four years and then tore it out and tossed it.

Later, I realized tha some trees fail because we let the grass grow right up to the trunk. I was informed that they prefer either raw dirt or mulch for several feet around the trunks. I am experimenting with that as we speak, and there seems to be something to it. I am trying all three systems in my little orchard and will report how it goes.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 9:24PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Bud,

My trees are from two places in Louisiana. The one is in the front yard tucked up against the carport, where the bottom of the tree is in the shade for most of the day and the branches are in the sun for a lot of the day. Doesn't make any difference. The one is out back in full sun most of the day.

The Celestes I had years ago didn't drop figs, but it wasn't as hot and dry then as it is now.

I think the figs need that cloud cover and rain falling on their leaves to do well.

Had thought of rigging up a shower head for the one out back to be able to see what would happen, but haven't done that. I've been too busy with all the little trees I have in pots to worry about the Celestes.

noss

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 12:25AM
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budbackeast(FLORIDA)

Hi Noss,

In your fig trees' extreme soil and weather and drought situation, what they might just need right now is is a bit of religion. Below is a very useful link to a fascinating report on how to successfully grow anything, and I agree with him. The video is over an hour in length, but if you can handle his imbedded sermons, you will be most amazed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grow everythng easily and cheaply!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 11:49PM
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pclaire

Two weeks ago it finally got warm enough at night to leave my figs outside. Since they leafed out months ago and have been under artificial light they are leggy and not very leafy. Sounds like they need to be pruned? If I do that now is it likely that I will still get figs this year?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 2:29PM
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budbackeast(FLORIDA)

If you just nip off the green bud tips from the ends of the branches, it should stimulate fig production this year. It should also encourage new limbs to grow on the existing branches. Thus, we can hope for fruit and bushing out.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 8:32PM
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pclaire

Thanks, I'll do that.

It's going to get cold tonight so the figs are back in the basement. A fig's life is not an easy one :>)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 7:34PM
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