Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

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 June 7, 2013 at 20:45

I can see Daniel's enthusiasm. Researching the quarantine regulations between Australia and the US would be a good first step. People do import plants! But there are good reasons for regulations - pests and diseases are the most important considerations - and a thorough knowledge before applying for the permits would save a lot of headaches. The fig wasp is not necessary for any edible fig, it's only role is to pollinate the fig flowers to make seeds. And anyone with dentures can tell you how pestiferous fig seeds are.

Comment by Lissa on June 7, 2013 at 19:48

Very curious how you expect to get cuttings from Australian to the US past Customs? let alone alive in the post all that way.

Comment by Lissa on September 16, 2011 at 4:50
I bought a bottle of Wild May at the Nambour Show but still haven't really looked at it. Does anyone have suggestions on how best to use it?
Comment by Florence on September 15, 2011 at 12:07

I use the Wild May Traps, which only attract Male flies, but it can help you to monitor the fruit fly population, and also if you're persistent, will reduce the numbers eventually.  So I also use the bagging method, netting would probably have been better, but not ready to make that investment yet.   The new Naturallure fruit fly sounds really good, but it contains spinosad, there's been some discussion about Spinosad so I'm not so sure about that ...

Here's a discussion I posted two years ago about fruit fly controls

Comment by Joseph on September 15, 2011 at 10:31

Thanks everyone for your advice.

This is a type of black fig. The fruit is quite nice (for a fig :)), although I'm no fig connoisseur. As to the fruiting season in Brisbane, I have no idea. The cutting has put out vigorous growth since coming out of winter hibernation but it's probably a long way from fruiting. I'll keep it in a pot for now. Having read the root restriction theory, container grown figs can potentially produce worthwhile crops.

Florence, those fly traps only catch the males right? There's a relatively new type of insecticide that will trap/kill female fruit flies but having read various forums, they aren't always effective. The most effective means is still to net the tree.

Here's a bit of info on fruit fly management. There is a list of fruit fly resistant fruits at the bottom of the page.


Comment by Florence on September 15, 2011 at 9:23
Maybe get a late season variety? (My impression was that fig season is in Autumn?  I don't have a fig tree yet)
I do get fruitflies here, and I set up traps for them, also tried bagging but didn't work out so well with so much rain last year.  I didn't catch anything in winter, and only very few in Autumn.. but catches a lot in summer.   I haven't set up the traps yet and I only started last summer, so I don't know about spring.  The few guava we got from our young guava tree were free of fruitflies, but the couple which were ripe (smelt way better than the winter ripen ones) in summer were full of fruitflies larve.  Same with our peach, the few that ripe last year late winter, early spring were okay, but the lot which ripes at the correct time, i.e. summer, were inedible.  I suspect borers as much as fruitflies though for the peaches...
Comment by Lissa on September 15, 2011 at 4:59

My guava at the last house (acreage at Cashmere) was a mess with fruit fly - I never got any useful fruit from it. The plant was as far from the house as it could be and I rarely gave it any attention.

But the fig here is fine. It's only a little plant close to the ground - whether that makes any difference of not - and being a small yard I can keep a closer eye on everything.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on September 14, 2011 at 21:26
Joseph I've never had fruit fly with any Figs or Persimmons or indeed any other plant unless the plant is struggling. Pests and diseases are usually an outcome of poor soil nutrients/wrong season/poor aspect-pH/watering. Anyway if you are concerned, cover the Fig with fine mesh. They do not need to be fertilised (the wasp which fertilises the exotic Figs we grow does not occur here) so using any kind of fine mesh or plant fabric will do the trick.
Comment by Joseph on September 14, 2011 at 19:02
Lissa, do you have fruit fly problems with figs? I read figs and guavas are very susceptible to fruit fly.
Comment by Joseph on September 14, 2011 at 19:01

Hi Elaine, thanks for posting this article. That is one very neat looking orchard and look at the size of the trunks on those fig trees!

Coincidentally I just re-potted my first fig today. It was grown from a cutting we took from Canberra earlier in the year.


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