Questions about figs splitting.

noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)May 3, 2010

Hello again,

I've been trying to read all the posts and started at the end of all the pages and going backwards. I am now confused about what makes figs split and sour.

All these years I thought that it was the rain hitting the figs themselves that made them split, but some of the posts sounded like it was from the rain that was being taken in by the plant roots being too much, which diluted the taste and made them split and sour.

Which is it, or is it both?

I thought it had to do with how open the eye of the fig was, that let the rain into it, with the tighter/closed eyes being best for wet/humid climate. I've read that it has to do with how well the fig droops because that helps it shed water off the bottom end, but the Celeste droops very well and will still sour in a lot of rain.

Here, I was going to try and rig up umbrellas for my BT, TXE and the O'Rourke/Improved Celeste with the more open eyes, to keep water out of the figs and now it sounds like it's the water the plant itself takes up that makes them split.

Someone else was suggesting a plastic shield for over the pot, at the base of the tree, to shed excess water, like a Christmas tree skirt, which sounds clever to me. Someone else was asking about putting a skirt around the base of the in-ground trees to keep too much water from right around the tree.

I suppose I could just do both if that would help. LOL!

Help! Here in Louisiana, it rains a LOT and is humid most of the time and very hot. Even the Celeste figs will split and sour if it rains a lot when they're ripening.



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giants_2007(10 PSL FL Sal)

Hi Noss I think it is a combination of all you mentioned. I'm also in the South East, Fl with high humidity and unpredictable rain storms The most Important IMHO is to find the right variety for your climate which is not as easy as it sounds but I think Dan, Gene,and Tim who have more growing experience can get you on the right path. It seems like you are on track by doing some research and asking questions

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 7:02AM
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Hi Noss, I have much the same problems as you here in SE Texas. I don't know about covering the soil around an in ground tree to keep the rain out --- sounds like a lot of trouble to me, but that's just me. I agree that Celeste figs will sour in the rain if the ripe figs are left on the tree. I try to pick them if I know it's going to rain---it doesn't seem to affect the ones ripening after the rain and I don't think I've ever seen a split Celeste. However, when we get those torrential downpours for days at a time, souring just can't be avoided. I just leave the sour ones on the tree for the birds. I find that I can quickly figure which ones are sour by giving them a quick sniff. The smell is very distinct. Hope this helps. Tim

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 10:09AM
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I am not sure what the answer is but I have a few in ground trees side by side and the ones with the more open eyes have their figs split way more than the ones with closed eyes, especially when it rains while the fruits are almost ripe. Since they all get the same amount of rain I have to conclude something else is responsible for the splitting. Probably the eye size of the particular fig.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 10:39AM
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If I had to guess based on my experience, I would say:

Splitting: Excess ground moisture taken up by roots
Souring: Excessive moisture in the air.

Tim, In July, 2007 there was such heavy rain in Houston that my 'Celeste' split. The rains were so plentiful after it split, the guts of the fig fell out onto the leaves below.

It is the only time the fruit on this tree split.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 12:48PM
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Hi Noss.
i grow in containers only and some plants because of different potting soil drain very fast and dry very fast.
With that being said some of my plants i will water every other day and none ever split.
But several years back we had 9 inches of rain over several days and they split.
It leads me to believe its caused by rain and much humidity getting inside the eye of the fig and swelling it to fast at once and splitting them.The tight eyes i call some types of figs because there is no fig with a complete closed eye would fair better under those conditions.
Thats been my obeservation with my fig plants in containers

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 3:51PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Hi and thanks for the thoughtful replies.

Sal, You are a touch from home (NJ). We've been in Cajun Country a long time now, just born and raised in NJ.

Thanks for your input. I have three types of trees now with "closed" eyed figs: Two Celeste, Smith and Hunt. The BT, TXE and O'Rourke will split if wet, but they'll be here if it's hot and dry like last year and it looks like it will be hot and dry again this year. The Hunt and Smith will be here (If I don't kill them all, that is...) if the Celeste drops its figs as it is wont to do in hot, dry weather. We'll see what happens.

Fantassytexan, The downpours we get are awesome, aren't they. Spoiled figs smell like vinegar, to me. Very distinctive. I have a PVC frame with bird netting on it over the one Celeste. It is WAR with the birds. I tried talking them into sharing the figs with me, but those mockingbirds are nothing but thugs and couldn't care less, so up went the netting. The frame keeps the netting off the foliage of the tree and lets the air flow around the tree. I put netting over just the tree one year and the leaves rusted much faster than normal. Now, I go outside, when I want to, and pick the figs. The birds are all around me and I will take my time eating a big, juicy fig while they watch and I tell them, "EEEEYYYYUUUMMM--Good figs." Occasionally, the wind will blow the bottom of the net open and they sneak in and get some figs. They're something else.

ejp, I guess some figs just do better in wet climates than others do and the thing to do is find those varieties and work with them. Thanks for your input with your observations.

James, Good grief! What a picture! Thanks for showing it. I like to let the Celestes stay on the tree until the skin gets those shallow cracks in it. They are at a place where they are close to getting too ripe, which will ferment them, but oh do they ever taste good at that point. If rain hits them at that point, they are lost, though. I've never seen a fig burst its "guts" like that.

Martin, Thanks for sharing your observations, as well. Yes, tight eyes is a better description for it. Maybe an umbrella would be a good experiment, if it would keep the rain off the figs themselves. It wouldn't be hard to rig something up with a container tree. It would have to be something the high winds we get here wouldn't destroy. Not an actual umbrella, that's for sure. :)

I appreciate everyone's comments and love this forum. Thanks again,


    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 7:25PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Ooops! Fatnsassytexan--I misread your name! Sorry! :( Got dylexic, there.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 7:28PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Awww, I messed up some of your names. I'm so sorry. Not used to you guys yet. I'll try to do better. :((((((


    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 7:33PM
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So a lot of the figs on my tree have started to split. I have my potted fig on the screened porch since 8/11 to protect the figs from birds & squirrels.I'm watering it when needed since it gets no rain. But it is normal summer here with very high humidity, dew points up to 77 degree on some days. I'm heart broken they are splitting. That is what you get when you get excited to have an early fig season to have your main crop ripen in the weeks of high humidity.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 4:28PM
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Splitting has to do with a lot of rain,and souring has to do with,the Vinegar fly leaving vinegar bacteria close to the eye or inside it.
I just wanted to point the attention toward the vinegar fly,because nobody mention it.
Tight eye are better as the bacteria do not get in all the figs like in the large open eye.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 5:58PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Hi Herman,

That's interesting--Vinegar fly--Something new to google. It will be interesting to see how those flies have vinegar bacteria on them.



    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 10:02PM
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I had a conversation with my uncles a couple of weeks ago. When I told him I had problems with my pomegranates splitting just before they ripened last year due to several days of heavy rain, he asked "do you water them regularly?"

He went on to say that if the trees are regularly and deeply watered, they won't be so susceptible to splitting from excessive rain. I found an article to back this theory up...

What caused the fruit to split like this? "Inconsistent watering," says John Begeman, horticulture agent with the University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension. When the trees are watered in an inconsistent pattern, or their watering cycle is suddenly changed, then splitting is more likely to occur, says Begeman.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 11:08PM
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I agree with last poster,about inconsistent watering.
I also wants to add that fig cultivars(or fruits cultivars for that matter) are more or less resistant to splitting in the case of inconsistent watering.
So is very important to find cultivars that resist splitting.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 11:29PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)


Vinegar fly=Fruit fly=Drosophila Melanogaster, the fly that they used for studying genes and inheritance of traits.

This fly is drawn by fermenting fruit and lays its eggs in over ripe fruits/vegetables and any other organic material it finds. Will even be drawn to sour mops!


    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 1:06AM
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This subject is an area of my research. It is much more complicated than just choosing an open eyed or closed eyed variety. There is a lot of room for intrepretation on the meaning of the "open" or "closed" eyed fig characteristic.

Here are some factors that can affect the actual "splitting" of figs: 1) skin thickness 2) skin elasticity 3) small or large eyes 4) open or closed eyes 5) fig growth rate during ripening 6) very wet soil/ground at time of ripening 7) sudden changes in weather conditions at time of ripening, etc.

Factors that affect actual "souring" includes 1) open eyes 2) cracks or splits that expose the pulp sugars 3) the presence or lack of any eye sealants 4)the type of eye sealant (honey or resin) 5) fig eye orientation (up or down) and 6) the presence (or lack thereof) of any souring bacteria or insects.

As the years go by.......I will have a lot more to say on this subject as it pertains to the specific cultivars in my collection.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 2:29PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Thanks Dan. :)


    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 6:03PM
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I found this discussion and joined the site because my figs are splitting way more than usual -- in the past only a few have done so. I'm mystified because the chief explanation I read here is excess rain, and I'm in Sacramento, where as usual, we had negligible rain after April (and less than usual all this year), with none at all in July. We did have an unusually high number of hot days in late June and much of July -- though that has happened before and I've never seen so much splitting. Does anyone have some possible explanations and especially suggestions, as the tree will continue producing a lot through September? Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 10:07PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Hi dlmandel,

This year, the fruit flies are horrendous and they are souring even the figs with closed eyes. I read something about a two-spotted fruit fly, but can't see any spots on the wings and they look like regular fruit flies. If it isn't one thing, it's another and I keep wondering what next.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 2:15PM
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