Older fig trees require more water

Question: I have one black mission and one white fig planted six years ago. The second crop of figs are small and easily fall off. I’m guessing they get 6 gallons every other day during the heat. Both trees grow very rapidly and are very healthy. What can be done to increase fig growth?

Make sure they receive adequate water during times of production. Figs require more water as they get larger. Apply water more often as the season gets hotter. If you don’t, the fruits will be small and fall off the tree.

Six gallons every other day is not enough for 6-year-old trees. Fig trees should be watered to a depth of at least 18 inches at each irrigation. If fig trees do not get enough water, the fruits will be small, leathery or drop from the tree early.

Figs are not easily blown off the tree if adequately watered. Figs require effort to remove even when they are ready to harvest.

It is hard to tell you specifically how much water to give your figs. An example might be the amount needed to fill a basin around the trunk 3 to 4 inches deep and extending half its diameter.

Filling a basin this size once should be adequate for a single irrigation. Increase the frequency of irrigation two to three times a week during the summer.

Figs respond well to surface mulches such as wood chips. Put a layer of wood mulch around the tree to a depth of 4 to 6 inches and apply a small amount of fertilizer in January to improve growth and production.

Even though figs are acclimated to our desert, they are more of an oasis plant, requiring frequent irrigations.

Bob Morris is a horticulture expert living in Las Vegas and professor emeritus for the University of Nevada. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com.

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