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Breaking Dormancy - too late to prune?

Posted by alexshrugged 10b (So Cal) (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 8, 12 at 21:46

Apologies if this question has been dealt with before, but I was having a hard time finding an answer in the archives...

I have an old, mature fig tree in my new yard (not sure what kind it is). Some of the branches are probably 15-20'+ high, too high to harvest the fruit. To be honest, it's in part-shade, so I'm not sure how much fruit it can produce/ripen anyway, but we'd like to try.

We'd love to prune it down to a more manageable height, and maybe thin it a little to help it fruit (there are so many branches right now), but it has already broken dormancy and there are leaves forming on the ends of the branches, as well as what look like a few baby figs. I don't want to discourage growth -- is it okay to prune now, or should we just let it grow this year, and prune after the season?

Also, suckers are coming up -- we should cut those off, right?

Thanks for your help!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Breaking Dormancy - too late to prune?

Yes you can prune your tree right now to a more manageable size. Fig trees are often pruned in my area just before bud break. This is done to keep the trees at the proper height for picking and to enable them to produce a larger crop of figs.

Of course by pruning you will lose some figs. The figs that formed on old wood from last year are called "breba" figs. You lose beba figs when you cut off old wood. The figs that form on the new growth from this year are called "main crop" figs. Pruning will stimulate even more new and healthy growth. There is even the possibility of a new crop of figs forming on your tree and having lots of time to ripen before winter arrives. In a zone 10 climate like yours, some figs will produce three crops of figs in a season.


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RE: Breaking Dormancy - too late to prune?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 9, 12 at 17:38

The energy for initial budbreak comes from a small store of starch stored at the base of leaf buds, so there is little energy loss if you prune when the first generation of leaves is still very young. Once the initial flush has started to mature and branches extend to subsequent generations of leaves, however, the energy drain can have a considerable impact.

So you're a Rand fan, hmm? Me too. Her prescience is/was amazing.

Al


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