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Most Productive Fig Variety – Case Study

    Fig trees are a great addition to any garden, as they produce delicious fruit and can be used in various ways. However, not all fig varieties are created equal when it comes to productivity. In this blog post, we will take a look at the most productive fig variety and how you can get the best results from it.

    How many figs does a fig tree produce?

    Fig trees can produce more than 50 pounds of fruit per year if they are well cared for. The amount depends on tree size, age, climate, and soil conditions. It is also important to be aware that the more figs you pick from a tree, the less productive it becomes due to stress on the fig tree.

    The number of edible figs that a tree produces is mostly determined by the crown size, which varies from tree to tree. However, it is also dependant on the variety. Not all fig varieties grow the same size.

    The second factor in the number of figs produced would be wood age. I don’t mean tree age, but the age of wood of branches you expect figs on. As the wood ages, it has less and less potential for fig growth. You will often find that the most figs are produced on 2nd-year branches.

    The climate is a huge factor in fig production. It’s especially relevant to this topic because different fig varieties can endure certain climates better than others. However, our comparison gets easier considering that all fig varieties grow best in warm, dry climates.

    The last but not least, soil conditions. Soil conditions play a crucial role in the number of figs produced, especially fertilization. Certain nutrients like phosphorus nudge a fig tree to produce more figs, while others like nitrogen make it grow branches and leaves.

    We can endlessly discuss the differences in size, wood age, and growing conditions between fig trees, but that’s not what this post is meant to focus on. I described it only to clarify that even the most productive fig varieties can have poor yields if these conditions are unfavorable.

    We want to compare fig varieties in equal conditions to determine which variety is most productive. 

    3 Main Criteria To Choose the Most Productive Fig Variety

    Luckily for me, I have lived in California for almost a decade now, and the climate here is excellent for growing figs.

    I’ve been growing figs for quite some time, making it easy to keep my fig trees in similar, if not equal, growing conditions and have as objective fig variety comparison as possible.

    To keep it even simpler, I always grow my fig to about the same size that’s great for long-term fig production. That puts differences in the tree size of certain varieties on an equal footing.

    If we take care of everything above and put each tree in equal conditions, we have three criteria, about as equally important.

    Which Fig Variety Has the Largest Fruit?

    Fig fruit size can range from small (around 0.5 oz) to large (5+ oz). Since the weight range is so big, it greatly affects the fig yield size.

    My biggest figs always come from the same four varieties:

    • Brown Turkey
    • Black Mission
    • Yellow Long Neck
    • Long Yellow

    Yellow Long Neck seems to produce the largest figs on average between 3.5 and 4.4 oz depending on the year.

    Long Yellow produces about the same sized figs as Yellow Long Neck. Some people even consider them the same variety. I didn’t research too much on it, so I can’t say for sure, but the two varieties seem slightly different to me.

    Brown Turkey is close to it in average fig size. However, it produces the single largest figs more often. The four largest figs I ever got were of Brown Turkey variety. (6.8oz 193g, 6.27oz 178g, 6.03oz 171g, and 5.82oz 165g)

    The largest fig recorded ever was Brown Turkey variety at 295 g (10.41 oz) by Lloyd Cole from Worthing, West Sussex, UK.

    Black Mission figs are, in my experience, about as equal as Brown Turkey ones but rarely grow into really large fruit.

    If you want to know more about fig fruit size and how to help your fig tree grow large ones, you can read my article What Is The Largest Fig Fruit?

    Most Productive Fig Variety by Number of Figs per Branch

    What good is the fig fruit size if you get only a small number of figs?

    Well, turns out fig fruit size and the number of figs per node on the branch are on the opposite sides of the “productivity spectrum.”

    However, I always prefer varieties with medium-sized fig fruit because it’s easier to make a tree grow more figs than it is to make it grow large figs.

    I usually apply all the necessary techniques to grow as many figs as possible in my regular fig tree care. Therefore, I often get many figs on varieties that produce average-sized fig fruit.

    In my case, varieties that produce the most figs per node are:

    • Mt Etna (one of Hardy Chicago types)
    • Improved Celeste
    • Petite Negri
    • Ronde de Bordeaux
    • LSU Purple
    • Violette de Bordeaux
    • Florea
    • Kadota / Dottato
    • Long Yellow
    • Nordland

    The list is ordered from more to fewer figs per node, but I didn’t want to put numbers next to it because I didn’t track the numbers too precisely over the years. All fig varieties on the list produce an excellent number of figs per node consistently.

    I wanted to include a few other varieties, but they didn’t produce a good number of figs consistently.

    We can see that the Long Neck fig variety produces a high amount of figs and has one of the largest fruit. I would put it as a clear winner in terms of production if it weren’t for the Mt Etna variety.

    Mt Etnas are not very large, but they can be just about average with proper care. However, they excel in the number of figs per node on the branch. In my case, Mt Etna variety produces almost double the number of figs, and some of the varieties I would put in second place.

    People often grow them in cold areas because it’s a cold-hardy variety. It might not produce as many figs in cold climates, but once you grow it in warm climates, you unleash Mt Etna’s full potential.

    Fig Varieties With Large Breba Fig Yield?

    Breba crop is often forgotten when talking about fig productivity. Fairly enough, most fig varieties that even grow breba crop do it in low quantities.

    However, having two quality crops can greatly increase fig productivity, and I can’t ignore it.

    Several fig varieties surprised me with breba yields, but almost none did it reliably.

    Fig varieties with potentially large breba crops:

    • Desert King
    • Black Mission
    • Kadota / Dottato
    • LSU Gold
    • Violette de Bordeaux

    The reliable one is the Desert King, which produces a good number of breba figs year after year.

    Most Productive Fig Varieties – Conclusion

    We can see that few fig varieties overlap in two of three criteria, making them highly productive.

    Long Yellow has some of the largest fruit and produces a high number of figs per node.

    Kadota and Violette de Bordeaux both produce a high number of main crop figs and have the potential to produce a high number of breba figs.

    Then, there is the Black Mission variety which has large figs and can produce lots of breba figs.

    And last, Mt Etna fig variety produces so many figs per node that it must be considered one of the most productive fig varieties. Even more so, when considering that it can grow so many figs in a much colder climate than most varieties mentioned in this post.