For those who grow Desert King fig


Just a reminder that, breba crop only works for trees in mild climate or for pot culture. Or if the trees are well protected. Most of the far Notherners have to prune the trees really hard since we do not want to protect some 7’ tall trees. There are also frequent tip die-backs. So I only expect some breba crop on my container trees. I pretty much ignore the breba with in-ground trees.


@DK, I tried to find growing degree days for Vancouver compared to Battle Ground, but could not find it. Vancouver is listed as elevation 187 feet Battle Ground as 292 feet. Depends on what part of town. I can recall a number of times when cars coming out of Battle Ground had snow on them whereas there was no snow in Vancouver. I imagine Vancouver also has a heat island effect, being much more developed. Yes they are rather similar, but they are not the same.

Looking at heat units, Vancouver is 2404 and Longview is 1862. Even though Battle Ground is much closer to Vancouver than to Longview, my feeling is we have fewer heat units than Vancouver.

@cdamarjian I suspect your climate is cooler and cloudier than mine with shorter summer heat period. My main crop is around mid september.

Edit - this is clunky, and is for corn rather than, say, figs. However, entering my old zip from W Vancouver gives a growing degree unit of about 2444 by oct 1. For my current Battleground zip, it is 2234. I may well be using it wrong, and not for the purpose intended, but the point is that BG has less favorable growing days for a relatively warm weather crop.


Have you tried using this tool?
You can enter your zip code and find the nearest station on the map with good data. You click on the Model tab, and choose degree day calculator. Enter the temperature range & time period, and output the results. My location is 2100-2200 GDD50 most years. This year was only 2k GDD50. It is the main reason I have held off on buying pawpaws. I think KY Champion will ripen consistently, but I don’t know if any others will.


Best to prune the Desert King
right after harvesting the Breba Crop
if you are in a short season area.
The 2nd crop rarely matures in my region
though a few start to.


I’m surprised that Vancouver has more heat units that Yakima, it’s the highest in the state of those listed.

My elevation, here in the forest, is 577 ft. according to your link.


@murky, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the difference in elevation? Mountain shadow effect? Different part of / proximity to the Gorge?

I tried to find the local Sunset zones for Yakima and Vancouver but they wouldn’t load. Might be due to my ad blocker.

I suspect the growing degree days affects our ability to grow some fruits and vegetables as much as out USDA climate zone does. I am barely able to grow sweetcorn - I have to plant the right varieties at the right moment. So far, pawpaws survive and grow for me but I’ve only had one crop in 8 years. Back to figs, I’m sure that is a factor in which ones are successful, breba vs. main crop and when. Also sweetness - when I do get very late figs, they are not usually nearly as sweet as the same variety’s brebas in summer. My fig trees are in full sun, south side of house. Until this year house was a light yellow, now it’s a medium grey, not sure if that will affect the fig production.

@nil, I think the gdd is a factor in my pawpaw lack of success - similar gdd50 to you. Also it’s usually chilly and rainy when they bloom. Plus for some reason two died to their graft.


I am a little surprised no one has mentioned Grantham’s Royal. I thought it was supposed to do pretty well as a breba producer in the PNW?


I have VdB, Hardy Chicago, Desert King, Lattarula, and I am rooting White Genoa this year.


Since Calvin mentioned Grantham’s Royal. I can confirm that GR is a wonderful breba producer for the PNW. Larger fruit, better tasting (IMO) and more productive than DK. Just as vigorous, maybe a touch more so.

I’ve heard it is a bit more cold sensitive so if you are cooler regions of PNW (say zone 8A instead of 8B), you may have significant dieback and very little breba production.


I’ve got Dessert King, VdB or Negronne, (probably) Brunswick, Stella, Lattarula and adding LSU Champagne, LSU Tiger, Olympian, and Ronde de Bordeaux this season.

These latter are supposed to have an early main crop. I’m hoping I won’t have to be only dependent on over-wintering breba production.

I considered Grantham’s Royal, but didn’t bite. I may have if I knew/believed it would be more productive than Desert King.


But who has a tree big enough to get cuttings?
I’d like to try it also.
Desert King is everywhere up here
A good Breba crop
but soft and sticky
and prone to rot, if we get a summer rain.
Rarely happens but once in a while locally.


Granthams is also large and soft. Will rot and split in summer rain. Also loses all flavor just like DK

if dry during summer, it is unbeatable.


What is the fruit color?


What is the comparative ripening time for Grantham vs. DK? Hoping not exactly the same since my mature DK results in a 3-week fig overload!


It is about 10-15 days after DK. Perfect timing!




@Murky, We have quite a bit of overlap in fig varieties. Mine, with about how long I’ve grown them:

Desert King (18 years) - good production, good figs. A good solid choice,
Lattarula (18 years) - my best light color fig in production, best breba and main crop. Also a good solid choice.
Hardy Chicago (20 years) - my best dark fig for production, good main crop. A good solid choice.
Brunswick (20 years) - Very big, very sweet figs, poor productivity, often drop or split. Rarely have brebas, main crop often so late they rot on the tree in our chilly fall rains.
Petite negri (21 years) - my favorite for flavor, black outside, red inside, very figgy, poor breba crop, main crop so late they often rot on tree like Brunswick.
LSU Tiger (8 years) - nothing stands out. good enough figs but others are more productive and better.
Celeste (5 years) - uncertain. 2020 was my first crop. Very figgy and sweet, small figs.
Carini (8 years) - good reddish brown brebas and main crop. From old garden web member.
White Sicilian (5 years) - uncertain. So far, a few nice sweet light figs brebas.
Smith (8 years) - very tasty dark figs, main crop, very poor production so far.
Champaign (8 years) - small yellow figs, very poor production. None last year.
Adriatic (8 years) - I’ve only had about three figs from this tree. I don’t recall the flavor.

I have room to keep poor producers, and not enough energy to remove them so far. If I were to recommend based on almost “sure bet” based on my garden, it would be Lattarula or Desert King (very similar but I lean towards Lattarula), and Hardy Chicago, and if there is room for a poor producing but very tasty when you get it, my votes are Petite negri and Brunswick.

Mine are organic. Only fertilizer is a winter dusting of wood ashes. My soil is acidic. Once they are big enough, deer cease to be a significant problem. Biggest problem is yellow jackets, which can and do destroy an entire crop before they are ripe. Traps help with those. Most of my fig trees are on south side of my house, on a hill side but Champagne, Adriatic and Brunswick are West / South of a large fir tree that might be an issue for them.

With warming climate, the choices might change. Petite negri, Brunswick, and Smith might ripen sooner and better. I noticed improvement in 2020 for example.

Edit (added) - one reason I keep some marginal varieties is they sometimes give fruit when the others are all finished. That spreads out the fresh fruit season a bit.


That’s a lot of Figs!
I agree on the Brunswick evaluation.
Mine set a few large fruits, but not a lot of them.
It is a beautiful tree though- highly ornamental.
I think my favorite local fig was Lattarula.
But the Hood Canal fig interests me.
Pictures are the Hood Canal fig.


@ Bear_with_me
Although you are in Zone 8, but you do not get the super hot summer like a true zone 8 is. I think for your PNW, the best bets are the medium light color figs. They do not need the intense heat to ripen the dark skilled figs. Yellow/green figs like Lattarula, Brooklyn White etc should do well.


Thanks for the great fig post Bear_with_me (it’s easier to type your name, but I usually only do that if that’s how the posts are signed, or if I’ve already seen it bandied about).

I wish I’d compared notes with you sooner. I may not have made the effort to get, and find a place to plant LSU Tiger and Champaign.

The fruit from Desert King, for me, is a solid B. Considering the ease of care, production, and reliability that makes it a real winner.

I don’t know that I’ve ever tried Hardy Chicago. I look forward to it some year. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to visit again in the fall and we can share some of our fruit with one another.

Brunswick (assuming that’s what I have) makes the biggest figs I’ve seen. Last year it ripened maybe 10 brebas, but that’s like 20 or 30 Desert Kings, and its not very vigorous. Despite half-hearted pinching, I haven’t come close to ripening a main crop. The first year I got a couple of brebas, I thought they were hardly worth eating. But I realized I picked them way too soon. Last year, when I waited until most of the interior was jammy, with the glistening translucency they were quite good. I probably preferred it to Desert King. But, I left one go a little too far, and in spite of looking pretty good still, it had some mold. Fortunately it was just the one. Hopefully that isn’t a characteristic. And yes, unfortunately it does tend drop fruits, but at least for last year’s brebas, they were ready to eat when dropped.
I haven’t fruited Lattarula yet, but I’ve had local ones. I think I like it better than Desert King too. It’s more honeyed. They are quite a bit softer, and don’t hold up as well. For that reason I’m guessing I’d favor Desert King if I could only have one of the two. If they are both ripe and I’m going to put one from tree to mouth, I think I’d favor Lattarula too. If I’m picking a dozen to give to somebody the next day - Desert King.

The best figs I’ve eaten are Negronne, or Violette de Bordeaux. The person who gave me the cutting used them interchangeably, as do some nurseries. When the breba ripen in the heat and get wrinkly, they are like berry jam inside. I have a couple of layered transplants from that tree at my new place. Maybe its the cooler weather, or not being against the house like my previous, but they haven’t lived up to billing so far at my new place. But I’m still hopeful. The tree they came from also ripens some main crops some years, in October. Haven’t gotten any at the new place, and the main crop figs will get moldy if left on the tree. A few weeks ago a beat the branches a bit with rake handle and 90% and managed to remove 90+% of the main crop figs in a few minutes.


Negronne/Violette de Bordeaux

fig and pistachio tart:

found the picture of them cut: