Fig scratch test

Planted some 1-2 inch caliper fig trees last October. Brown Turkey and Olympian. I did scratch test on BT today and didn’t get any nice green underneath bark until about 2 inches from the ground. The Olympian I didn’t get any green anywhere. Both figs are about two feet tall. Should I trim them 1-2 inches from the ground? Also, is this normal for figs? Are they a “die back” and return type tree? Tx

Unfortunately in the TN/KY area that’s pretty normal. They will sprout back but it remains to be seen if the BT will produce fruit. I know Olympian won’t when frozen back. There are better choices than the later for areas with winter damage. You can cut back now or wait until they start to grow. Sometimes it’s hard to tell just how far back they are damaged.

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Thanks so much for the feedback. :slight_smile:

As a fellow TN/KY resident, I can tell you that @fruitnut has once again given you good advice. I’ve had other less hardy figs die back to the ground, but so far they’ve always sprouted back up and it doesn’t seem to matter if you cut the dead stuff away or not. MY BT are considerably hardier and usually only loose the top foot or so. I use the scratch test to try to find the top of the live tissue and cut the dead away, but honestly it doesn’t seem to make much difference to the plant. New growth usually comes from the highest “bud” on the SIDE of the sticks anyway, so what is above doesn’t matter- whether it is nothing or dead wood. I like to get the dead out for looks but as Steven said, its sort of hard to find. Another trick that will sound crazy until you try it is to either wet down the remaining fig or look at it after a rain. When wet you can pretty much see a green tint in the live portions and none in the dead.

BTW…I have a very hard time getting my brown turkey to ripen here. Everyone I say this too says it makes no sense so perhaps I have mislabled figs or maybe there is some deficiency in my soil or whatever, but I look forward to hearing if you get fruit.

Last but not least, I would encourage you to get some Chicago Hardy Figs. They really are hardy. I usually get very, very little die back on them- just the top few inches and that may be from drying out as much as freezing. They are also one of my favorite tasting figs. Good luck, Zack.

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Kevin, that is some outstanding information right there! Thank you! I will definitely get some Chicago Hardys especially since you have had much success with them and they taste good. The only fig I have ever tried are the dried figs you find in ziplock bags at the grocery store, and I love those.
Have you had any success with that “TN mountain” or Celeste fig?

You try giving them some protection in the winter. My in ground ones are still dormant. When i uncovered they passed the scratch test but I want to wait as fruitnut suggested before I declare victory. My container figs are starting to leaf out. Way ahead.

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Oh…now I am excited FOR YOU!!! Like you, when I planted my first fig, the only thing I’d ever tasted was a fig newton and a dried fig. I’ll never forget tasting my first fresh fig!!! You won’t even believe its the same species as a dried fig. The ripe, fresh ones are absolutely amazing. I can’t wait for you to try one!

TN mountain fig seems to be controversial in that no one seems to agree exactly what that is and different people attribute different characteristics to them. There are lots of people here who know a lot more about figs than me, but one man’t TN Mountian Fig seems to be another man’s Celeste, Malta, Sugar fig, and so on.
I have grown some figs I bought to be Celeste, and they don’t ripen in time for me- just like Brown Turkey. HOWEVER, it should be said that others in our zone have no problem with it and people say mine should perform well too. So I don’t know if I have some kind of environmental deficiency, got mislabled figs, or if Celeste really don’t do well here. They should, so don’t let me discourage you.

Good luck!

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Awesome Kevin!! Can’t wait to try my first fresh fig! Thank you!!