FMV in figs: how serious?

I see a lot of sellers say their figs are or could be infected. I have a RDB that shows kinda extreme infection, it still grew and rooted. i was just wondering if I should be concerned about this? Some other figs show some possible infection but not as bad as the RDB plants. Should I dispose of them? Or will they outgrow it somewhat? Are mites around in the Midwest to spread? Any input welcome.

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I’ve seen the severity of infection as judged by leaf color, size, and deformity; vary greatly depending on growing conditions. I’m talking about one plant and it’s progeny via cuttings. At times you see none. Then with cold or other stress a new cutting may hardly grow. So given good growing conditions including fertilizer I think the plants can grow out of it.

I have some newly rooted cuttings now that are severely affected.

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They are fairly stressed, low water, hardly any fertilizer as I want them to grow as slow as possible until I can get them outside. I may have to cut a couple of them.
I see some possible symptoms on others, but no where near as bad. OK, thanks much, I will see how it progresses.

Fig bud mites can be carried anywhere figs are taken. They can’t survive freezing weather though and that has given growers in the north a false sense of security. They can survive all spring summer and fall in the coldest zones and be passed to other collections on cuttings or plants kept in heated storage, indoors, or greenhouses.

Fig mosaic virus is a detriment to growth and productivity, the severity of leaf symptoms is correlated to the severity of stunting on the affected growth. Trees can “grow out” of the symptoms partially (some healthy growths appear) but not always, the most severe documented symptom is decline and death. I can honestly say, having grown both infected and uninfected (no symptoms) plants of the same variety(s), that it absolutely does make a huge difference when producing consistent plants. While varieties that are not associated with FMV symptoms like MBVS and Sal’s have been occasionally described as being resistant to FMV (this was most likely a concession of sorts to those who stubbornly declare that all trees are infected) that is false, once infected MT. Etna figs are more affected than other varieties unless they are able to again produce healthy growths. A tree that does not show leaf symptoms does not experience the negative effects of the virus, so whether all trees have some latent virus that never shows is a moot point to make.

My RdB came heavily infected (100% of 2 cuttings) but made symptom free growths after planting in the ground and growing vigorously. I removed (and discarded) the infected growths that formed during the season and took cuttings from the healthy growths. Of these new plants roughly 90% had no obvious symptoms and grew consistently, each roughly the same size at the end of the season when treated the same. But, the mother will still make a few growths with symptoms because areas of the crown are still infected and most likely always will be. Same with DFIC 69 Barnisotte, sanitary selection of symptom free growths yields a majority of symptom free plants, which i expect will produce an even higher percentage of symptom free plants in the next generation. It is a multi year process to get healthy cuttings from an infected plant, if at all possible; I have one plant that is almost 10 and has never produced a symptom free growth, most likely from a high rate of infection in the cutting it was grown from.

My biggest concern over blanket statements regarding the benign nature of FMV is that it discounts the superior health of symptom free plants, they are the the true/original representations of the named variety. But it also encourages the spread of the fig bud mite, which produces leaf symptoms that are routinely confused with FMV by many online sources. The combination of the mite and the virus is much more potent than either is separately, the natural defense of fig trees is to smother the sickly growths with faster growing healthy shoots and still thrive, but the FBM ensures that all growths will be infected. The FBM moves the virus from plant to plant and also increases the severity of symptoms because it is able to spread from branch to branch much faster than the virus can on its own.


OK, well I will try to clone a clean area when the time comes if it does. Thanks for the info! Excellent info to know appreciate it! I really want this cultivar, so thanks guys the situation is better than I expected.

I’m a stickler at avoiding plants with FMV. I refuse to purchase or accept
cuttings or plants from California, where the mite naturally lives. I learned my lesson the hard way. Last year I purchased two varieties from Rolling River. Both arrived with FMV, and I was told by the owner of RR that the plants would out grow it. I was afraid that the plants may have the mite, which is not visible to the naked eye, and would spread to my other figs. So I sprayed the two plants from RR and my other plants as well, with a good miticide. One of the RR plants eventually died, while the other is a runt, and has stayed a runt, no matter how much care I give it. RR did refund my money. I don’t buy the line that all figs have FMV. None of my figs do, and they all grow like gang busters. You take a big chance, when you accept cuttings from someone who doesn’t take FMV seriously. Why spend money and time trying to grow a plant that’s diseased. That’s why it’s extremely hard to find a clean Col De Dama Blanc. Ebay sellers and UC Davis continue to spread virused versions of this variety and think nothing of it.


Don’t know how old this post is. My 2cents. I have figs with FMV. After trying various sprays, I sprayed them with diatomaceous earth (1cup to 1 gal water). Diatomaceous earth has properties that control micro insects while safe for humans. I still get some blotchy leaves but the plants are healthy.


For those that want to try an experiment I read that heat treating fig cuttings at 105°F and 100% humidity for a few hours might treat cuttings with FMV.

I thought about doing something like that using my sous vide and vacuum seal the cuttings with a bit of water.


I’d take everything you read at ourfigs with a grain of salt, most of the experienced growers left a long time ago. Heat does denature viruses and they will stop reproducing, but it does not kill them… animals have immune systems that actually fight many viruses, but plants do not.

In the lab study I read the heat was continued on TC plants for a matter of weeks, and then the new shoots that had formed during that time were cut and rooted to produce virus free plants. I actually tried TC on figs to attempt it, but it was very difficult and time consuming, and I’ve had good luck simply invigorating a plant and propagating a new one from healthy growths. It takes years though, and that is too much for most people, especially the ones trying to appear official in order to sell cuttings.


It’s impossible to tell for sure if there is FMV in a fig tree unless you do a real test for it, there are all kinds of things that have the same symptoms, so no seller can guarantee that their plants are FMV free, any fig tree variety that originated from California or the Mediterranean sea area, has been around fig trees with FMV, and may even have FMV, may have the mites that spread the disease.

Some fig plants have been reported to show signs of FMV in the fruit, I myself have not seen that. Yet I have not grown any variety known for that.

Black Madeira is a variety of fig tree that has been tested to have many different strains of FMV in it at the same time, and the symptoms can come and go in it, it’s a variety that a majority of collectors want.


It’s complicated, but I’ve propagated lots of plants from asymptomatic growths of symptomatic trees that have yet to show any viral symptoms after several seasons. IME they show it in their first year, or they probably never will. I have seen symptoms creep up a previously asymtomatic trunk on a symptomatic tree, it took six years, and I can’t really say if it came from the roots because I had 2 fig bud mite infestations during that time and while that tree never showed fig bud mite symptoms I can’t rule it out. With the way people treat the mite all casually I generally disbelieve what I read about FMV, because of the frequency of collectors distributing the mite. I feel confident about my trees though, I’ve propagated and grown out thousands.

The Etna types had a tendency to show necrotic spots on the fruits.


I’m still a lowly fig newb—started in 2017 and just got my first 22 in-ground trees through a 6b winter—but I’ve already acquired a distaste for fig mosaic disease and am aiming for a symptom-free orchard. I’ve seen too many reports of infected plants taking a hit in production and vigor to take the disease lightly; and I also find that it destroys aesthetic enjoyment of the plant. And I find it somewhat curious that many collectors (some of whom want to sell you cuttings and plants) tell you the disease is “no big deal,” while the authors of fig virology/acarology studies from regions where the fig is of economic importance generally express concern at growing regional and global infection rates. I also saw, very early in my fig-growing hobby, how readily the disease is spread by fig bud mites—and just how easy it is to get an infestation of them from non-California sources!

In the winter of 2017-18, I grew out cuttings obtained from three reputable eastern U.S. collectors and ended up with a raging fig bud mite infestation. A few of the young plants I got from these sources had probable viral symptoms—and the mites spread the infection to a majority of my previously asymptomatic young plants—including all my tissue cultures. I lost most of my first figs through culling infected ones.

Still, I’m lucky that I got my baptism by eriophyid over at an early stage—and I’m especially lucky I discovered old posts about mites and FMD by @hoosierbanana! I’ve ditched a lot of plants and gotten the mites under control (I hope!), but—thanks to Brent—I’m off to a pretty clean start. Taking another cue from him, I’ve also tried propagating from clean growths on plants that showed symptoms post-infestation; and all that have taken have, thus far, been symptom-free. It looks like I was able to save a couple of cultivars I really wanted by doing this :crossed_fingers: —which is a great thing, because, to be honest, I’d be really hesitant about buying cuttings through the online fig collecting community again.

Prevailing collector attitudes toward this serious disease and its vector seem way too cavalier. Since Brent’s not active over there anymore, I’ve done my best to continue spreading the word about Aceria ficus over at ourfigs. Don’t know if I’ve had much impact—and sometimes I think I’ve just devolved into some sort of fig mite troll. :grin:


I have been growing figs for 7 years and the FMV subsided in all of those infected. I agree with the other collectors, no big deal. Yeah stress those cuttings you made out and you will see the virus again, you did not get rid of it, you’ll find that out on your own.

Probably none. Since you’re in 6b just ;leave the plants outside into December and all the mites will be dead. Commercial growers in California gave up trying to get rid of FMV as trees soon became infected again after treatment.
No cuttings are going to have mites, only plants you obtain. They need leaf material to live. Well it’s possible if dormant mites have laid eggs, but a simple bleach wash will kill any eggs.

I don’t see any signs of FMV in any of my plants, but I know many have it as it is well documented like RdB has it, all plants. Yet I have not seen symptoms in years. It produces very well too.
Nothing wrong with trying to keep a clean orchard. I gave up on that. I am a Medical Technologist whose specialty was viruses (and bacteria and fungi). I’m retired now. You know we are talking about 30 or more strains of FMV. Sure some are really bad, but most are not. The last thing FMV wants to do is kill it’s host. You tend to go extinct that way.

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Not true. A specialized generation of females overwinters in bud scales; they begin laying eggs again at bud break. This is well-documented. And there’s no other way I could’ve gotten the mites. And a bleach wash—which I performed—did not kill them.

Maybe. But no one has documented what temperatures are needed to kill the mite. It could be that actual bud death through winter topkill is needed to completely dispose of any remaining ones. Again, no one knows for sure. I spotted a live, slender, light-yellow eriophyid on a young leaf on an overwintered in-ground this spring. And I treated this and all trees repeatedly last year, and have acquired no new figs. Anyway, very possibly a fig bud mite—though I can’t be 100% sure. I treated everything again—with sulfur, spiromesifen, and spinosad. I suspect these things are tougher than many folks think.

Could be, though one would think the stress of the rooting process would make expression of symptoms likely. Incidentally, I had a spare one of these—a Longue d’Aout—that I rooted in the fall; and I’ve decided to stress it a bit, permitting it to become rootbound in its tall treepot and watering but not feeding it for a while. It’s stopped growing and it looks chlorotic, but—so far—no mosaic symptoms.

Fig virology is still in its infancy and I’ll admit I’m just a layman, but it’s apparent that not all fig viruses (of which there are around 10 that are known—and three viroids) are the same. I think there’s definitely something to the theory (expressed elsewhere by Brent) that FMV and perhaps other viruses which cause symptoms in figs are not systemic, but move on an intercellular level, very slowly, through the plant (absent fig mites, at least). Some viruses have been found in asymptomatic plants—fig badnavirus-1 (FBV-1) being a very common one—but there’s some question about whether these are directly involved in the etiology of FMD.

Of course, I will continue to watch my plants for symptoms.


Welcome Jeremiah! I’ve always appreciated how you dig into the research and made such an effort to help others. I found it terribly frustrating to constantly be at odds with other members who parrot popular opinion. Not to mention disgusted when new growers would seek help and show pictures of diseased plants out of concern only to be told not to believe the problem they see with their own eyes is real, or be blamed for not fertilizing properly. It can be very hard to help someone with little personal experience when there is a united front telling them differently. It’s a very lonely situation, because people who are committed to growing figs for fruit rather than sticks often vanish in the current environment.

@Drew51 I remember sending you 2 trees in your first year growing figs, which was 2015. That’s not 7 years :roll_eyes: So pardon me for suspecting there could be some other exaggerations in your post.

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As do all viruses. But it is not so slow.
They are systemic is another way to put it. They use a Protein carrier molecule to travel when outside of cells.

I was counting pigeonpea sterility mosaic virus (PPSMV) and maize red stripe virus (MRSV).As they are definitely related. And other related viruses. probably about 30 of them. Well then we have strains and their are hundreds of them. Viruses evolve very quickly.

We have been studying them since 1933.

That was not my first year. it’s 6 years not 7 though. My bad. 2013 is when i started growing them.

That’s not what I remember, and I thought we had sorted this out previously. With @fruitnut sending you your first cuttings in 2015.

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Thanks, Brent! And thank you for sharing your expertise and experience with new growers! You’ve helped me out a lot.

I know what you mean. It is very frustrating. Sometimes I feel like nobody’s listening. Anyway, this seems like a happenin’ place . . . so thought I’d move on over!