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trials in trailing figs
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quokka
Corvallis
143 Posts
(Offline)
1
September 10, 2022 - 4:04 pm

Out of respect for Jafar's request, and in recognition that members of this board have patiently provided me with considerable help over the years, here is the story of the fig experiments. Presented in the hope that board members will find it at least entertaining (feel free to mock me – I'm even including bonus non-fig material to make it easy) and maybe get some info out of it.

Background. My house is on a 0.1 acre lot, and in the back is a huge, and still rapidly growing, pin oak which shades a lot of the yard. In the front a neighbor had a huge evergreen which shaded much of the front yard, and my yard was covered with all sorts of evergreen shrubbery. One happy day I got the call at work that the big evergreen was being taken out, and while the people were there, could our evergreens also be removed? As long as I can plant some fruit trees...

Well there was no planting possible. It was impossible to dig a hole. A friend came over with a roto-tiller, which simply bounced off the ground in places. A little prep needed. All told I gave up counting after 27 yards - no joke - of imported soil, compost, etc. (some went into back and side yards). Also wide scale sheet mulching. Any time I saw a wheelbarrow in somebody's yard, there was a Pavlovian response.

Eventually the soil was good. The next bright idea was to turn it into a miniature fruit garden (https://openlibrary.org/books/.....uit_garden). Space limited, get some variety and distributed harvests rather than a bumper crop off of two trees. On to figs. Two Negronnes were planted. Why two? Had read how they were the best tasting, had sampled, and really, the shop had some 2 for 1 deal. So along with apples, cherries, pears and plums, in went the Negronnes.

Having exerted the physical effort, now some lessons were provided. Bambi was a wrecking ball. Between Bambi and the flying worms, the apples were a lot of work relative to the value provided, and Bambi destroyed the cherries. The Negronnes however were safe, and despite so-so conditions were very productive. Are there any other figs? Reading and talking to people in OR, not much works, and there was even an article or two in the old HOS journal about this. But I got to talk to people successfully growing figs in WA, BC, and coastal CA, and some of them were kind enough to give, sell, or swap cuttings to me. At the time these were varieties which had zero to very limited commercial availability in the US. Now several should be available.

So the candidate cuttings were turned into baby trees and progressively up-potted. The idea was that if they could ripen figs of adequate quality and in adequate quantity, they would be candidates for a hole in the ground. The standard of course was the Negronne. For the tree to make sense, the figs would have to be different, or better, or ripen at a different time. Now I knew that the quality would be worse in a pot than in the ground, and the pots were kept in a semi-poor area so not a bad simulation in practice. But some made the grade and started to go in ground (apples, cherries out). But remember that big evergreen that blocked sun? At this point my neighbor decided to plant some other shrubbery which to this day shortens the sun hours some little trees could get.

The candidate figs, and their outcomes (all anybody really cares about, but hope you have a laugh at the previous gibberish):

Adriatic JH. This provides a very good fruit. Almost tastes of strawberry jam. It produced well enough in the pot to go in the ground, but with the neighbor's shrubbery nearby did not produce well. After a couple years it went to a new home, where from reports it produces well enough with very tasty fruit.

Brunswick. At the time it was named Pacific Queen, but later testing found this to be actually a Brunswick. https://forums.homeorchardsoci.....ood-homes/ I tried to contact all who got one from me with the bad news. Mine never made it in ground, it simply was nothing special.

Dauphine. Tasty large figs, OK production. Turns out this was commercially available, though renamed as Stella. Mine met with some kind of accident, can't recall what.

Doree. Figs were good but nothing special, modest production.

Green Ischia. Did not produce at my place.

Hollier. In ground. It produces well, one of the favorites for flavor, and the flavor is different (a honey fig).

Lampiera. The figs are wonderful, but barely any are produced or ripen. Not sure why I keep it (huge pot) and anticipate it will not be kept much longer.

Longue D'Aout. Moderate production, good flavor. It just recently got a hole, too early to tell more.

Marseille Black VS. This was very productive in the pot, and is quite productive despite being in about the worst location for sun (the Adriatic JH had been right beside it). The flavor is similar to, but better than, Black Mission. Also it ripens earlier and more consistently than Black Mission. There is a Black Mission in the neighborhood that gets great sun; the neighbor and I have done side by side comparisons.

Olympian. This wants to produce a lot. The figs are good, but not great. It does taste a bit different than the other figs I grow. The tree is still in a huge pot waiting for a hole to open up.

Pastilliere. The few figs I got off it were good, but it simply dropped most figs, which I was warned about in advance. It is long gone.

Ronde de Bordeaux. In ground, early ripening main crop. Figs are a bit small. For the first couple years it was only good, despite a reputation for being among the best. But now it is roughly comparable to the Negronne. Some weeks it might be better, others not as good. It is productive.

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jafar
582 Posts
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2
September 10, 2022 - 6:46 pm

I really appreciate the post, thank you.

Does your Negronne produce main crop, or only breba?  Are you comparing the breba to main crop Ronde de Bordeaux?  At my old place Negronne sometimes ripens main crop, haven't yet here in many years so far.

Are you the one who gave me my Brunswick, at the time considered unknown?  When it produces brebas, they are unique, if only that they are enormous, and I like them.  This year no brebas and I don't think the main crop will ripen here.

I'm intrigued by Adriatic.

I have a Stella that I haven't cared well for, but the couple figs it produced were not at all promising.  Your post makes me consider giving it more of a chance.  Is it breba figs you get from it?

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quokka
Corvallis
143 Posts
(Offline)
3
September 11, 2022 - 9:21 am

Does your Negronne produce main crop, or only breba?  Are you comparing the breba to main crop Ronde de Bordeaux?  At my old place Negronne sometimes ripens main crop, haven't yet here in many years so far.

My Negronnes produce a modest breba crop. The breba crop is OK to good, nothing special. Once the main crop gets going, it continues for weeks, and those cows need to be milked pretty much daily. 

Despite the intention to have distributed harvests, there is considerable overlap in production. It is very common to be able to lay out a sampler plate with Hollier, Marseilles Black VS, Negronne, and Ronde de Bordeaux. Sometimes there may be some Longue D'Aout and/or Olympian instead of H or MVS. The LDA and O are smaller and potted so their output is less.  

Are you the one who gave me my Brunswick, at the time considered unknown? When it produces brebas, they are unique, if only that they are enormous, and I like them.  This year no brebas and I don't think the main crop will ripen here.

Yes. When I told you afterwards about the error, you just thanked me for the info. I'm glad that it has worked out for you.

I'm intrigued by Adriatic.

If you aren't getting production from your Negronne, I suspect an Adriatic JH (which from what I've read and been told, is supposed to be different than Adriatic) would be an ornamental for you. 

Though I am curious - are you certain that your current Negronne is actually a Negronne?

I have a Stella that I haven't cared well for, but the couple figs it produced were not at all promising.  Your post makes me consider giving it more of a chance.  Is it breba figs you get from it?

I believe you mean your Dauphine? The fig people have been fighting the issue of certain fig sellers (nursery and otherwise) re-naming varieties, which is understandable. 

My Dauphine was killed years ago, can't recall how. Going by memory, not sure if breba or main. Again going by memory, while the figs were good, they were not special.

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John S
PDX OR
2549 Posts
(Offline)
4
September 11, 2022 - 12:01 pm

Great post Quokka, as usual. 
Have you ever grown Desert King or Lattarula? Those seem to me to be the most recommended varieties here in PNW.

John S
PDX OR

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jafar
582 Posts
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5
September 11, 2022 - 1:14 pm

@quokka 

My Negronne was from a cutting rooted by Plumfan from our forum.  I believe he considered it a synonym of Violette de Bordeaux and I use the names interchangeably.  I understand there's some controversy as to whether they are the same.

It's brebas are the best figs I've eaten.  It performs better at my old place in the suburbs, compared to here in the forest.  It's maybe a week later than Desert King in ripening the brebas, or similar timing. 

I've recently added Ronde de Bordeaux, LSU Tiger and Champagne.  I'd also added Olympia, but mowed it to the ground inadvertently.  Plus I have a small tree that I thought was Lattarula, given to me at an HOS event, can't remember by whom, but it has pink flesh and I suspect maybe its Lattarola, or something else, I didn't know that Lattarula and Lattarola were different names and maybe have mis-transcribed the label.

Unfortunately I was out of the country when this years crop of breba, the 2nd time for the small tree, were ripe.

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quokka
Corvallis
143 Posts
(Offline)
6
September 11, 2022 - 4:22 pm

Thanks for the very kind comment John.

Have you ever grown Desert King or Lattarula? Those seem to me to be the most recommended varieties here in PNW.

I have a Desert King. I sampled Lattarula multiple times before my initial plantings. To me it was just sweet, no real flavor, so I've never been tempted to grow it.

My Negronne was from a cutting rooted by Plumfan

Then I would be confident it is Negronne. Partly because of trusting Plumfun, and partly because he definitely has Negronne. 

I believe he considered it a synonym of Violette de Bordeaux and I use the names interchangeably.  I understand there's some controversy as to whether they are the same.

This resulted in me going down a rabbit hole. I used to have a dendogram, I think the NCGR in Davis made it, of 200+ fig varieties. I can't find it now. But they had them as the same, and on that basis I would agree with Plumfun. 

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quokka
Corvallis
143 Posts
(Offline)
7
September 21, 2022 - 4:37 pm

The frost in the first week of April set back a lot of plants, as we all know. With respect to the fig trees, they all lost leaves, and those that had brebas mostly lost them. I think the Negronnes produced just a few (single digits) breba. Now all the plants are running late. Usually at this time of year the figs need to be harvested. The only tree to ripen a fig so far is the Ronde de Bordeaux. The Hollier, Marseilles Black VS, and Negronne have a lot of figs, but at this point it doesn't look good for them ripening unless we now have extended warm and sunny weather.

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