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Fig Management - great tips from a commercial grower

Tips from an old Italian grower, Angelo Caruso and practiced by commercial Biodynamic grower at Beerburrum, Terry Little.

Angelo told Terry to cut back the Fig trees hard each year and cut back to a stump every 5 years. As they start growing, pinch out shoots to leave no more than 18-24 leaders.


Two views of Terry pinching out excess shoots on the figs.

Fig trees easily grow 3-4 metres in a season and produce a fig at every node. The trees are a manageable size for picking and each tree produces hundreds of good sized figs. The figs are picked as close to ripe as possible - they don’t ripen much after picking.

While pinching off excess shoots, Terry keeps a close eye out for fig beetles, the main pest of figs here. [See Fig Longicorn Beetle] At this stage while the trees are small and have few leaves, they are easy to spot and squash, preventing a later build up. If they do get away, Terry can resort to spraying Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) or Neem oil, to kill them at the caterpillar stage. The main disease problem is leaf rust, the consequence of growing a dry summer crop in a wet humid climate. Terry has used [Biodynamic preparation] 501 at times in very wet periods and sometimes uses wettable sulphur.

Other routine jobs in the fig orchards include regular mowing, irrigation and cutting off suckers with the blade on the whipper snipper.

[article taken from the December 2010 edition of Biodynamic Growing magazine with kind permission of the editor, John Bradshaw. See the website

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Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 4, 2016 at 8:25

No idea. Terry was not interested in having a visit from some of us. The article is a reprint from Biodynamic Growing magazine of a few years back. I have not read an update so really don't know anything more than what's in the article.

Comment by Sophie on April 4, 2016 at 7:48
Perhaps Terry is less busy this year/different season?
Comment by Elaine de Saxe on May 21, 2015 at 18:17

He sells into the Melbourne Market. Demeter-certified (Biodynamic), suspect that's where the best prices are.

Comment by Lissa on May 21, 2015 at 16:23

It was worth a shot. Would have been very interesting. He's so bogged down with cropping (!!) and then an overseas trip that he can't have visitors in the way. I did ask if he sold at the farm gate, but no.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on May 21, 2015 at 11:09

Dang! Thanks for trying :-)

Comment by Lissa on May 21, 2015 at 9:15

I've spoken with Terry on the phone and he's not interested in having anyone come to visit, more's the pity but there you go.

Comment by Lissa on May 21, 2015 at 4:55

I've done another search and this time found Terry's fig farm at Beerburrum. Does anyone want to go visit if he will allow it?

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on May 20, 2015 at 22:37

Update 2015: NOW I can see a bit more about what the author is saying about pinching out shoots.

Both my White Adriatic and Black Genoa had a good crop this season. Pruned and expected them to go into dormancy.

Instead they are shooting and leafing up.

I did find that from each spot a shoot was growing that there were two, three shoots. I have removed the excess shoots so only one branch will grow from each spot. Not seen that before.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 9, 2013 at 8:40

From where we sit, there are several varieties of edible exotic Fig already thriving in many different climates; all produce fruit without pollination. We even have native Figs very tiny fruits much loved by native wildlife. Quarantine is about stopping introduction of any more weeds, pests and diseases. It may not work as well as it should but it has little to do with enriching politicians. It's up to the individual here if they want to import and how they go about it is on their conscience.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 8, 2013 at 16:59

Daniel you do your thing your way. Personally I would be asking quarantine and following their advice. There's quarantine restrictions even between states in Australia.

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