For those who grow Desert King fig


This is my 30-year-old Desert King’s main crop which, from IMG_0479 experience, will never fruit. So…

  1. Do you remove any unripe figs (larger than a marble) after a hard freeze?
  2. Do you pinch the tips of branches in June? I’ve read that pinching terminals of main shoots, once they have extended 4-6 leaves, may discourage tree from trying to set a main crop and may make the current crop bigger.


I thought that leaf pinching was meant to ripen the main crop earlier.

My Dessert King is 5 or 6 yeas old I’d guess. A couple of days ago I gently wacked it with a broom handle to shake off the remaining clingers, otherwise they will make a moldy mess. Not as bad as Violette de Bordeaux though. There were only a few on the Desert King.


@ramv has a big Desert King in Kirkland,WA and some main crop ripened this year.He may be able to give more advice,but I think any fruit that starts forming after July 1st is removed.


Desert King has been a mystery to me. Most people say DK is a Sand Pedro type fig. Here is from One Green World:

Desert King is a San Pedro type fig so it will only produce a breba crop in climates where the fig wasp does not live to pollinate the main crop

But my friend claims his DK sets main crop in NJ. The fruit has been confirmed to look like DK.

Anyhow, most growers grow DK for its breba crop only, particularly in PNW area where there is not enough heat to produce regular main crop.

Breba fruits only on one year old wood. For mature tree, during dormant season, prune off the fruiting branches (canes) already produced breba fruits (2nd year wood). Leave the current year wood (first year wood) to produce breba fruits next year.

Tip pinching technique is used around July to stimulate new fig formation of the main crop. For DK, you do not want to do this. DK will likely produce main crip figlets after breba crop has finished. If DK main crop will never ripen, main crop production can be ignored.


DK ripens only about 10% of its main crop fruit here.
Pinching may cause your tree to abort its breba. So unless you want just a minimal amount of main crop which isn’t very good ,don’t pinch.


Bob Duncan of Canada has a youtube video for pruning for a breba crop that I found helpful.


Yes, this is the same way I stated above. He is in the mild PNW and he does not even protect his large tree. He just cuts down old fruiting branches, retains first year new wood. Next year, the one year old wood would produce breba and new wood would grow from the places where he cuts down the old wood.


Thanks. That video is great. Rule of thumb: each year head back 2 year old branches to origin. I can remember that! This tree produces about 100 lbs of figs a year and I’m always wobbling on a 14’ ladder, trying to pick from high branches, anticipating a tip-over. Will try a reduction in height regimen over a few years. Because of deer, I’ll unfortunately never have that beautifully well-balanced tree from which you can pick at ground level!


My DK main crop figs look very different. But probably this is because mine are pollinated.


14’ ladder… YIKS!
I had let my DK get out of control before I saw this video. It was an eye opener for me. Took a bit to get it back down to something I could easily manage


I asked a friend in Oregon and she grows DK. She says the photos look like DK. I do not have it yet. Maybe next year. Some look more reddish inside.


When the time is right, you should just cut down some of the tall trunks to bring the fruiting branches lower. 14’ is not really manageable to pick fresh fruits. Maybe some can dry on the tree and fall.


Do they have the fig wasp in Oregon?


When fully ripe, the red interior on my DK extends further up into the neck of the fruit. However, I’ve used figs at the picture’s stage to broil with goat cheese with a walnut topping.
It’s cool, rainy, and dark here now… I guess I’m just dreaming of summer fruit.
Yes, I will be removing some of the tall trunks. Will try to keep the tree somewhere between deer hind- leg-balanced height( i.e. 8’) and 12’.
I do sell all 100 lbs at my roadside stand!
No fig wasp here.


@Stan, I’m not here to argue if that is DK or not. That is not even important here. As I said from the very beginning, DK is s mystery to me…


Have you fruited any other figs in Vancouver? I was initially turned off to other varieties by Raintree’s admonition …“DK is the most consistent cropper in our region”.
But after seeing how super easy figs are to root, I’m giving some others a try. I’ve now got Violette de Bordeaux and Stella as 2 yr olds, no fruit. The DK took at least 5 years to fruit so it’ll be a wait.


The video was super helpful for this fig neophyte looking to keep trees to manageable size. My desert king produced it’s first crop of decent figs last summer after planting in 2014 here on the Northern California coast. My potted violet du bordeaux on the south facing patio and Olympian out in the yard have set figs but fail to sweeten up.


That’s too bad about Violette de Bordeaux not ripening. After watching some youtube tutorials on fig pinching, I see that it is used on VdeB figs, if they have set figlets (id’d by 2 bumps in the crux of the branch), and if they need a longer growing season that you can supply. Perhaps it’s a technique to try on the Violette de Bordeaux next year.


For each variety of fig, there is a deadline to pinch, or that is the last hope. This is also different location-wise.

Most fig varieties show the obvious hidden figlets (double bumps). But some of them only show one bump. I’d still pinch them since I really get nothing to lose.

Some people never pinch. They want the perfect shape of tree branching out. But since I’m in cold climate and there is frequent die-back, I really care less about perfect tree shape.


I’ve had Desert King, olympian and stella for a number of years. DK is by far the most productive. Started producing at 3yrs maybe?? Olympian maybe 6 to a dozen figs in the past 3yrs or so… but I was doing the pruning all wrong until I watched Bob Duncan’s video. DK is in a big space. Olympian and stella are in between the house and a walkway so I was keeping Olympian trimmed but doing it all wrong. It is a wonder I got any figs at all! I have gotten 2 ripe figs from stella. This summer I decided that stella was coming out!! So I am getting a few cuttings to try a few new varieties.
If you are looking for ideas, there is a fellow in Seattle… BenB. He has LOTS of videos on youtube for PNW figs. I found his “5 best breba figs” video helpful. Mary