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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 Lissa on May 7, 2011 at 5:42
Do you have any contact info for Terry Elaine?
Comment by Elaine de Saxe on May 6, 2011 at 6:58
I guess the man in the photo is Terry ... yes it would be great to visit him!
Comment by Lissa on May 6, 2011 at 6:11

Timely advice for me Elaine, thank you. My fig is just finishing fruiting and it's way over 5yrs old and never been cut back.

What a beautiful little orchard the man above has - looks like a giant amongst his trees. How easy is it to crop these! Is this perhaps Terry at Beerburrum? Would make a good excursion to visit him.

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