Where Figs Grow in California?
Day Length and Chilling Zones
Figs require full sunlight for maximum fruit production. When choosing a site for figs, select an area that has sun for most of the day or expect reduced performance from the trees. Early morning sun is particularly important to dry dew from the plants, thereby reducing the incidence of diseases. Figs are frost and freeze sensitive and perform best south of the 800-hour chilling zone. Mature figs which are fully dormant can endure temperatures of 10 degrees F with little damage.
Although figs can be grown in all types of soil, they do not tolerate poorly drained sites. Avoid sites and soils where water stands for more than 24 hours after a rain. In areas of poor drainage, roots receive insufficient oxygen which results in stunted growth and eventual death of the tree. Figs are relatively salt-tolerant and can be grown along the coast near brackish water.
Types of Figs
There are four distinct types of figs: Common Fig, Caprifig, Smyrna, and San Pedro.
Common Figs are the only figs significant to commercial growers in Texas. These figs develop parthenocarpically (without pollination) and are by far the most prevalent type of fig grown in Texas. The fruit does not have true seeds and is primarily produced on wood from the current season. Most varieties recommended for Texas are of the Common Fig type.
Caprifigs produce a small non-edible fruit; however, the flowers inside the Caprifig product pollen. This pollen is essential for fertilizing fruit of the Smyrna and San Pedro types. The pollen is transported from the Caprifig to the pollen-sterile types by a Blastophaga wasp. Commercial growers hang baskets of Blastophaga-infested Caprifigs so that the wasps can effectively fertilize the fruit. Caprifigs were grown successfully at Del Rio, Texas, as early as 1901.
Smyrna Fig varieties produce large edible fruit with true seeds. The Blastophaga wasp and Capriifigs are required for pollination and normal fruit development. If this fertilization process does not occur, fruit will not develop properly and will fall from the tree. Smyrna-type figs are commonly sold as dried figs.
San Pedro type figs bear two crops of fruit in one season – one crop on the previous season’s growth and a second crop on current growth. The first crop, called the Breba crop, is parthenocarpic and does not require pollination. Fruit of the second crop is the Smyrna type and requires pollination from the Caprifig. Breba crops are produced early in the spring on last season’s wood. However, the second crop of Smyrna type may fail to set because of lack of pollination from Blastophaga and Caprifig. This second crop fruit drop frequently discourages homeowners.