According to R. Sanford Martin, in his classic book How to Prune Fruit Trees, Mission figs produce fruit on wood that is one year old or older. But I have a young Mission fig that is producing figs on this years growth exclusively. I’m wondering if I was sold an incorrectly marked tree. Is it possible that this is a Mission fig despite where the fruit is appearing?
I’m pretty sure they produce both a breba and main crop, but I am not speaking from personal experience. Here are some resources that say they produce both types of crops, though:
Thanks! yes, they are supposed to produce both. These figs are definitely not the breba crop, and unfortunately Martin doesn’t even discuss the breba/main crop issue, so there’s no way to know which crop he’s referring to, though I would imagine it’s the main crop. This will be the first year the tree produces anything, so I guess I’ll find out whether they are truly Mission in the next few months.
I thought that by definition breba forms on old wood and main crop on fresh growth?
That does seem to be the case, but I can’t figure out how to reconcile that with the advice he gives. The reason it matters to me is that he provides different pruning advice depending on which type of fig one is growing, and I’d like to prune properly.
Actually Martin uses “Mission” as an example of what he terms a Black Fig, along with San Pedro. I use this approach on Violette de Bordeaux.
Sanford Martin and Ira Condit were co-generational in California. Here is what Condit writes about Mission on page 439 of his 1955 Monograph:
Breba crop good in most seasons; fruits large, up to 2 inches in diameter and 3 inches
in length, pyriform, with prominent, thick neck, often 1/2 inch long; average weight 56
grams; stalk short and thick; ribs fairly prominent, slightly raised, generally coloring
earlier than body; eye medium, scales purple; surface glossy, with pruinose bloom;
white flecks prominent, scattered; skin checking lengthwise at full maturity; color black;
meat thin, white, or slightly colored; pulp light strawberry, solid; flavor rich, decidedly
characteristic of the fig. Quality excellent. Widely used fresh for local and distant
markets, and frequently dried. (Plate 19, D.)
Second-crop figs variable in size and shape, larger and longer in cool coastal climates
than in the interior, as reported by Condit (1950); average weight near Los Angeles 41
grams, at Riverside 25 grams; size medium; shape pyriform, with thick neck, or often
without neck; body 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 inches in length; stalk short, thick; ribs narrow, only
slightly elevated; eye small to medium, fairly well closed, scales violet; surface dull, with
conspicuous bloom; flecks of white at first prominent, as shown by Condit (1941 a, fig.
9, F), becoming obscured by body color; skin checking at complete maturity; color
black over entire surface; pulp amber to light strawberry; flavor distinctive, rich.
Quality excellent, both fresh and dried.
Caprified figs somewhat larger; average weight 56 grams; pulp dark strawberry;
seeds large, fertile. These figs are not regarded favorably, however, by dried-fig
packers because of greater loss by spoilage.
Thank you, Richard. But I don’t quite see how this addresses my question of where on the tree the figs grow, and how that impacts pruning choices. I’m also not sure why you said “Actually Martin uses “Mission” as an example…” I thought I was clear that I was talking about Mission figs.
In any case, my Mission fig is producing lots of figs, all on this years growth, so I remain perplexed by Martin’s description.
Are the pages in your edition of Martin’s book identical to the photos I took of mine?
@swincher Yes, they are identical. Am I misreading his text?
Yes. He is giving Mission and San Pedro as examples (“vs.”) of what he terms “Black Figs”. I believe he intended this category to complement his “White Fig” category which he states are better for Spring crop. I think it is an omission on his part not to say so explicitly.
@Richard I’m afraid I’m still not understanding what your point is. My question is why am I finding Mission figs growing on this year’s branches, given that he clearly states that Black figs grow on last year’s branches.
@edmark I think what the book meant is just that they have a good breba crop (on old wood), not that they fail to produce a main crop at all (on new growth). So you can prune them in the way that’s recommended to encourage the breba production.
He did not say that they have only one crop, he said that the best quality figs are on the new growth, and that for that reason when the trees go dormant, they should be pruned then.
I find that common figs regardless of color aborts the breba crop, or at least most of it, and that any breba crop figs that produce are low quality, while the main crop figs have a medium to large quantity of main crop figs, that are higher in quality, he says the same thing about white and brown figs as well.
With regard to black figs he does not say the the best quality figs are on the new growth. He makes no mention of quality; he simply says “This type of fig produces fruit on wood that is one year old or older”, which strongly suggests that there is no fruit on this year’s growth. Given that my Mission fig is producing lots of figs on this year’s growth, this is almost certainly not what he meant to suggest. He just failed to communicate.
It’s true that he does not say any figs have only one crop, but neither does he mention that any of them have two crops. Unless one already knew that figs have the potential to produce two crops, there is no way to surmise that fact from what he says. (So far, I too have found that the breba crop is minimal and of poor quality for all my figs. )
Since all common figs produce on new growth maybe he was just talking about breba figs as that depends on variety. He may assume someone wanting to read such detail on fig’s already knows this.
Just my guess