Making some decisions about my fig varieties


#1

I was hoping some of very knowledgable fig folk here could help me make some decisions about my figs. A few years back I was planning to put 2 figs in the ground, but wound up starting with 4 in pots with the intention to plant the best 2 when I got to taste them. What a fool I was. I stumbled on a rare local heirloom a figficianto wanted and sent him cuttings when he asked. He sent me 2 air layers in return and after sharing a few interesting unknowns with him this past year he sent me a few more air layers and some cuttings. A couple local people I was giving some plants to gave me a few other rare ones when they saw all the potted figs in my driveway and I’ve gotten a few in trade from the kind folks here. The end result is I have a lot of figs, some not widely known and hard to get much real info on. I’m trying to decide what gets bigger pots, etc. plus I’m not sure how many containers I can keep stuffing into my garage each winter.

So I would welcome any insight into which of these below are very similar and are sort of duplicates in taste/type and of course if any of the less known ones are particularly good and I should give priority placement. I’m in 7A so really long season figs like my Preto are probably not going to be great, even though I have one. I’m afraid to say it, but I’d also like to hear if there is something specific you think is really missing that I should get. I do plan to probably add a Col de Dame type and a Bourjasotte, but feel free to talk me out of those as well. If I can find the will power I think 10 figs would be about right.
Thoughts on these, particularly ones you don’t hear much about?

Fig Preto (I think I have to keep this one at least until I taste a few. It dropped its first fruit this year when a neighbor who was watering it while I was away forgot…)

Chicago Hardy (Probably a good standard to keep, right?)

Black Bethlehem (One of the first figs I got and good, but I wonder if it is close enough to CH to just pick one or the other)

Celeste (Very good and sweet, but mine drops a lot of figs so I routinely threaten it with extinction)

Red Sicilian type (Local unknown that is large, sweet and definitely a keeper, previously known as “Steve’s Brown Turkey” until I realized it wasn’t a BT)

RDB (young, hasn’t fruited yet)

VDB (tiny rooted cutting)

Battaglia Green (young, hasn’t fruited yet - very droopy compared to JH Adriatic which should be similar, right?)

JH Adriatic (first fruit this year, so haven’t tasted yet)

Aldo (like the Red Sicilian but less vigorous and smaller figs)

Laredek EBT (very nice breba figs and good main crop, I’ll probably keep this one)

Norella (young plant, no fruit yet)

Bellaclare Sport (young plant, no fruit yet)

DeLa Reina (young plant, no fruit yet)

Napolitano Negra (young plant, no fruit yet)

Fracazzano Nero (young plant, no fruit yet)

Iranian Yellow Bifera (first figs this year, but may be too small to mature in time)


#2

Adriatic JH and Battaglia were basically the same to me. Kept Adriatic JH because Battaglia was infected with FMV after a fig bud mite infestation.

You might see a few differences between HC and BB, genetic testing put HC right next to a few other Etna types. HC seems to ripen a little later than the other Etna types I’m growing, but I only have one HC and lots of the others, so who knows, maybe it will be ahead this year or I’ve ignored the trees that ripened late of the other types or something. Looking at pictures of Norella, it could be an Etna type as well, but I have not grown it and there are not many pictures to look at.

RdB has been a pain to keep in a container for me, grows so much it needs more repotting than most, and not as productive as I would like, it has a unique flavor though which many people really like so maybe it would be worth it to you. It might be a good one to try in a sub irrigated planter as Kerry aka drivewayfarmer has a beauty you should be able to find some pictures of.

I believe Napolitano Negra, De La Reina and Fracazzano Nero are all similar to Mission, but I’ve not grown any, since I’ve got Maltese Falcon to frustrate me already.


#3

I would wait to taste them all. Hardy Chicago and Black Bethlehem are close, you can pick one. I would take BB myself.
Keep VdB
JH and B Green are similar, pick which you prefer. The rest I would try first.


#4

I agree about VdB, similar flavor to Black Madeira for me, ripens a little earlier and can have lots of really good breba.


#5

I would keep Celeste, Hardy Chicago , VDB , JH Adriatic, ***Fico Preto . All good keeper.
Last year fig of the year for me came from Celeste. It is very underrated fig and must have for every fig grower. People do not pay attention due to its easy availability.

***Fico Preto you know is a great fig but needs some help like head start, greenhouse mine is loaded with figs second year plant about 35 figs on it.


#6

Wow, thanks all for the thoughts. @Drew51 I’d like to taste them all and decide, but what about the 300 others I haven’t grown yet? Kidding aside I can’t imagine getting rid of any without tasting them, but it is good to have a list to give some priority to in terms of space in the sun, bigger pots, etc. B Green is frustrating me since it is very lanky and floppy and shows a lot of FMV, so the nice clean JH seems like the one to go with between those 2. I actually have a local green unknown that I’ve had delicious figs from the mother tree on and it never gets any cold damage, so maybe I’ll go JH and the unknown green.

@Naeem I agree Celeste is great and often under appreciated. Every time I get mad at it for dropping figs it saves itself by giving me at least a few really sweet and delicious figs. @hoosierbanana thanks for helping me figure out that group of mission types, that really helps think about them a little more clearly. Maybe I’ll give the Napolitano Negra the best treatment since it is the biggest so far and probably will give me the most fruit.

I know nothing about the Iranian one and the the only thing I could find out about the Belleclaire Sport was in this old Martha Stewart video from the original nursery.


If it is the owners favorite, I’m hoping it is worth keeping.

My biggest problem is that sometimes my favorite fig is the one I ate last. I mostly need them to be prolific and not too demanding or hobbled from FMV so I get a few after the squirrels, birds and chipmunks take their cut.


#7

My B Green never has shown signs of FMV. Most of my infected plants are hard to get going, but once there grow just fine. I have not seen it as an issue long term.


#8

I think people have given a lot of good advice. If add that you could consider multigrafting your container figs. I was up to well over 50 containers and cut it back by turning some of my healthiest into 3 or 4 variety multigrafts. It’s helped with space until I get a chance to try them all and see which are the real keepers.

The ones I haven’t liked as much, I stick in the ground to survive or die here in a cold zone six. If any are able to produce in my short season, that’s a bonus and a reason to keep them.


#9

That’s a great video, very interesting. I’m quite sure I ended up with a ‘sport’ of Black Mission. Bought it at a big box store on a whim when it was tiny, and couldn’t figure out why every branch bent to the ground initially before heading back up. It looks really nice in a pot and stays a lot more compact than my upright varieties. At three years old it’s barely 3’ tall but more than 4’ wide and cranks out lots of yummy figs. Pretty cool.


#10

Sounds like it is a tissue culture tree, most likely if you root a cutting it would grow upright. Could be a sport though, some TC processes are prone to mutations, could also be mislabeled though.