Fig Cultivars Make a Big Difference in Our Climate

Article excerpt

Byline: Paula Lamb

The ends of my fig fruit seem to be fermenting and the figs are sour. What is causing this?

You told me that you don't know the variety or cultivar of your fig tree, but from the description of your fruit, you likely have a variety that has an open eye or ostiole (located on the bottom part or apex of the fruit). Because of our hot, humid weather in the southeastern United States, we are limited in the number of varieties of figs that we can successfully grow.

Fig cultivars with medium to large open eyes tend to allow the entry of water and humidity as well as insects into the interior of the fruit. Water can dilute the sweetness of the fig and can aid fermentation and lead to splitting of the fruit. Insects carry yeast organisms which can lead to fermentation and make the fruit sour. We have had plenty of water lately and we never seem to have a shortage of insects, so your figs are being bombarded by nature.

If you want to improve your fig production, I suggest you plant a variety that has a fruit with a small or closed ostiole. A few fig trees with this characteristic include:aBrown Turkey, Celeste (several varieties), Conadria and Hunt. For other suggested cultivars, go to ufl.edu and do a search for the article: "The Fig."

I have some shrubs planted near my house that have all of a sudden started to die off. I water them regularly. What am I doing wrong?

This week I had two callers with this common problem. Both of you told me that the dying plants are planted directly under or near the drip line of the roof of your houses. We refer to this as roof water runoff or stormwater runoff. During periods of drought or dry spells, these plants seem to do all right. However, during periods of frequent or heavy rains - especially rains from tropical storms like the ones we have recently experienced - the amount of water that flows from the roofs of homes and buildings can literally and quickly drown the plants beneath them.

If possible, consider planting either forward of or behind the roof drip line. …