Earliest main crop vs earliest breba?

I’ve recently started growing figs and unfortunately given that I’m in zone 5, all of them will be in pots. Because of the short growing season here I’ve been purchasing very early varieties such as improved celeste and ronde de bordeaux. I was wondering though, are breba crops usually earlier to fruit and ripen since they are on already developed wood? I’m aware that brebas are usually inferior quality but if I can extend my fig season, that would be great. Any recommendations on early ripening brebas if they can ripen prior to early main crop figs?

In my experience brebas are pretty unreliable, especially in containers. I tried growing a bunch of the best San Pedro types and never got a thing.

I’m growing a variety of San Pedros in pots. In the past, trees would reliably lose their brebas every spring in our volatile weather. Then ~5 years ago I started waiting to take the trees out of storage until temperatures are >50 F day and night. Here that translates to mid-May. Since then, I’ve harvested huge crops. For example, one big tree now carries ~125 brebas. Almost all of these should ripen. Ripening here is late July/early August. I’ve had success with a Desert King type named Zumwalt, Filacciano Bianco, and Lampeira Preta. I also have Grantham’s Royal but the tree is only 1 year.

My earlier main crop varieties are Florea, Improved Celeste, and Ronde de Bordeaux, all of which begin to ripen here roughly 8/15.

For 2 years, I’ve been experimenting with starting the trees early in a warm basement under strong LEDs. This can give me roughly a 4-6 week head start. For example, last year I was picking Florea in early/mid July.


I am not sure what you mean, breba crop is the first crop of the year, and it comes first if it does not abort, and if it does not get destroyed by the cold. This year is going to be the first year that we get a large crop of breba figs, we have had very few breba figs for that reason, and because there are more hungry creatures when the breba crop ripens VS the main crop. I will be able to truly compare the main crop vs the breba crop this year for the first time.

alanmerieca – Growing potted San Pedros in New England, brebas normally begin to swell in storage in March and can be dime-sized in storage in late April. I have learned (with help from some friends in the Pacific Northwest) that these brebas are very sensitive to fluctuations in temperature. The typical late April / early May day – 55-65 F during the day, 35-40 F at night – will stress the brebas and they will simply abort. All of them.

I’ve found that if I can wait until temperatures are slightly higher and somewhat more stable – 50 F or better – the brebas on my San Pedro’s will survive and eventually ripen.


This is a medium-sized potted San Pedro with lots of brebas, recently take out of storage.


Here drought aborts breba, just like the cooler temperatures do, way more easily than the main crop, although the main crop quality drops a lot here when the nights are cool, not aborted figs in that case, yet still.

My most reliable breba crop is from Olympian. Never that many, under a dozen.


I have 1 breba on my potted Chicago hardy

I am in zone 8 and I find the following tips helpful. Most of my trees are Desert King growing in the ground. The video from British Columbia is good for cooler climates like ours. May be is will help you in zone 5.
Kent, wa
Ripen Figs faster

Pruning video for Breba crop in cool climates: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RB0D_tuKgtQ

This video features the Dessert King variety which he says does best in cool climates.

How to force early fig ripening: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SJckql2bOWc

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Yeah, you guys are talking brebas on common figs. You’d get WAY more on a San Pedro type. This season I’ve counted ~25 on a small tree, ~60-65 on some medium-sized trees, and >120 on a large tree. A big in-ground Desert King in the PNW can yield many hundreds.

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Oh wow, this is great to know! Out of curiousity, how do you manage to keep them in storage for that long without them dying? Won’t they break dormancy and use up all of their energy before you get the chance to bring them out?

Also what size gallon pot is the san pedro you have pictured in?

Thank you as always for the great information!

@Adamsmasherz – Hey, I’m glad to help. The pot in the picture is 15-20 gallon. I don’t know offhand but I can check if you want exact details.

Re storage, so long as temperatures are 40-50 F or lower, the trees will stay dormant. So long as you water occasionally to ensure that the potting mix is damp, they’ll stay dormant and not suffer damage. My trees are dormant >6 months.

Well to be precise, they do break dormancy in late March / early April and begin to grow brebas and then later break bud, That’s because the garage warms up sometimes to 50-60 F. Given those temperatures, they don’t grow fast and definitely don’t use up all stored energy. By the time I put them outside (mid-May) there are small leaves just itching to go to work as solar collectors.

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Thank you! Thats great to know, I would have been worried about it putting too much energy out before it could develop leaves. One more question for you, when outside temps are stable enough in the 50s, do you need to acclimate them/harden them off to the sun or can you just set them out for a full days worth?