Author Topic: Best tasting fig for SoCal?  (Read 2815 times)

simon_grow

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Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« on: April 27, 2020, 01:28:21 PM »
I recently got interested in figs and was wondering what are the best tasting varieties to grow in SoCal?

I am relatively new to figs and know very little about the different varieties available. I do know that there are several different flavor categories such as the berry tasting, honey, caramel, etc...

I like super sweet figs and will probably bag the fruit from fruit flies so I prefer larger figs so that I donít have to bag as many.

I currently have VDB, Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Black Madeira on Brown Turkey, Yellow Longneck and Golden Rainbow.

What varieties will produce the sweetest and best tasting figs around the San Diego area? I know everyone has a unique palate but I would love to hear about your favorite varieties for each flavor category. Any pictures of the fruit, especially the inside, would be greatly appreciated.

Here are my newest plants
Yellow Longneck

Golden Rainbow


Simon

FruitFool

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2020, 03:49:49 PM »
Figs do well here in san diego. There are so many varieties, its hard to say what is best and tastes are subjective.
From what I have tasted, Craven's craving is definitely better of the Black Madeira types and its bigger.
White Madeira#1 is a nice green skin fig. Bourjasotte Grise is very good too.
Last year I tasted Lampeira Prusch at Richard's fig gathering in Vista which was grown by Doug in North cal, that was one amazing tasting fig.
All CDD types are supposed to have similar taste, I liked CDD Rimada as well as CDD Grise at the fig gathering.
I am not into honey type sweet figs so very limited experience there - only tasted Peter's honey which was too sweet for me, I top worked my peter's honey tree into multi grafted.
You definitely picked out a good honey type fig - Golden rainbow - from reviews on fig forum. 

Oolie

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2020, 03:53:35 PM »
I've been doing a bit of reading on this. From what I can tell, microclimate plays a large role, though the ability to sit on a tree for an extended period appears to be the key. It seems that the varieties most highly acclaimed don't need a long hang time to achieve a characteristic flavor. Typically these are all varieties similar to Black Madeira. There are a number of other varietals in different categories however, and it has been stated repeatedly that for most, the unique flavors come out when they've been allowed an extended hang time, and this can often be to the point of sugar spotting. I've even noted on the riper Excels that there's a light melon note I don't see others talking about, so I do understand when others talk about something needing a long hang time to exhibit full flavor.

Microclimate and hang-time aside, it also appears that caprification plays a role for some, and it was mentioned that at certain tastings, the figs that were caprified were more highly appreciated than those that were not. Since San Diego is one of the few places where wild caprifigs grow(and in some cases wasps overwinter), it's an important consideration.

I would start at microclimate though, as near the coast in San Diego, it's very different than the continentally influenced inland valleys. This especially applies to the ripening periods for early figs that ripen when marine layer affects the majority of SD residents.

I'm still new to figs as well, and noticed that performance during the first three years is not indicative of the long-term character of a cultivar, especially in regards to flavor. My VdB was not a desirable fruit at all the first three years, but year four the flavors really came through.

palingkecil

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2020, 04:27:58 PM »
Figs' lovers and experts at ourfigs.com consider Figo Preto the best tasting fig. It grows well in So-Cal. But it is hard to root, so the price for a 5 gal Figo Preto is about $125. I decided to go to the second option, Unk Pastiliere, dark skin, very sweet with a little tropical burst and kind of wine aftertaste for me. The other one I got is Strawberry Verte, green skin, also super sweet, berry like flavor, juicy and productive. My other favorite is Paradiso, yellow skin, very sweet and buttery. I got all 3 varieties from a guy in Simi Valley. He has good selections, and you can taste the fig on the spot if they are in season.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 04:34:09 PM by palingkecil »

shpaz

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2020, 04:58:10 PM »
The best tasting figs for drier climates would be:

- Black Madeira - Now this one is slow to grow and not that prolific, however, the taste is just on a league of its own. It has a sweet and syrupy complex berry fig flavor.
- Borjasotte Grise - This fig has great dependable production. it is a strawberry jam type with good sweetness and very thin skin.
- Panache - This fig is very pretty as it is stripped. It is a strawberry jam type with high sweetness and thin skin.
- Socorro Black - This one has weak roots, so I'd graft it on a good root-stock like Desert King of Black Mission. Is has strong strawberry flavor, mixed this notes of melon, all topped with honey flavor and sweetness.
- White Madeira # 1 - I don't know much about it but my friends rave about it. I hear it is very sweet with strawberry/raspberry jam flavor.
- Marseilles Black - This tree is smaller than your typical fig trees, though it is still a fast grower. It is a Honey sweet fig with rich berry and cherry flavors (the cherry flavors are only reported in hot climates).
- Green Kalamata - A Greek fig that can be hard to find - They say it is basically a mandarin Orange flavored syrup. Three times sweeter than cane sugar. However reports vary. Also, this should not be grown outside of California as it needs the fig wasp to be able to bear fruits.

Other varieties that are known to be really good in drier climates are Col de Dame Blanc (low sugar berry type), Exquisito (3rd crop has banana yogurt overtures), Pastiliere (has notes of plum), Genovese Nero AF, Hative de Argentueil, LSU Scott's Black, Martinenca Rimada, Violette De Bordeaux and Yellow Long Neck (light refreshing fig)

« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 05:02:12 PM by shpaz »
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NateTheGreat

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2020, 05:22:03 PM »
Somewhat new to figs too. I think it's strange how these discussions typically ignore the commonly-available figs, basically just ranking the super expensive ones. I doubt Black Madeira is much better than Chicago Hardy for example, but I haven't tasted either. I think marketing has a lot to do with it.

Oolie

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2020, 08:25:57 PM »
Somewhat new to figs too. I think it's strange how these discussions typically ignore the commonly-available figs, basically just ranking the super expensive ones. I doubt Black Madeira is much better than Chicago Hardy for example, but I haven't tasted either. I think marketing has a lot to do with it.

Popular figs don't get popular for no reason. Fig mania aside, popular ones like CH and RdB are popular for good reason, solid performance over a large area, consistent over time. There will be waves of popularity with many varieties, but it's appearing that BM is withstanding the test of time. It will never be the success story of the previous two due to issues such as ultra-late cropping (bad for anyone with a short season), as well as splitting issues (bad for anywhere that irrigation is not manged(able to be), but it's not fallen out of favor since its introduction, and certainly is being used as the standard by many.

I'd like to try both side-by-side to be fair.

simon_grow

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2020, 07:27:42 PM »
Thanks for all the great information everyone! Iíve been reading up on figs for hours every day and I have a lot to learn. I didnít know what caprification was and I didnít even know that figs generally taste better if pollinated by the fig wasp. Actually, I didnít even know there was a fig wasp.

Anyways, Iíve been on Figbid quite a bit but most the sellers with the better varieties donít ship to California. What a bummer.

Iím pretty good at grafting fruit trees but my first 8 grafts on figs gave me some issues because of the strong sap flow. A fig expert friend has been helping me a lot and taught me how to score beneath the graft to release some sap and also not to water the fig around the time of grafting.

Iím not one to settle for run of the mill so Iím already trying to think outside the box in order to increase the growth rate of figs by looking into rootstocks.

Iím also considering manual pollination by planting Caprifigs for pollen.

Has anyone tried breeding figs? It seems difficult because the flowers are enclosed within the fig. Do common figs produce male pollen or is it Ong the Caprifig that produces the pollen.

Simon

Oolie

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2020, 12:21:51 AM »
Common figs ripen in absence of the wasp, and do so Parthenocarpically. The seeds will not be viable if not pollinated in this instance. Only caprifigs produce pollen.

There's some pretty large collections in California, especially in the local area. Several members of the CRFG have sizeable collections of sought after varieties and bring their scions to the January exchange.

For optimization, there are two challenges that can be somewhat alleviated with different rootstocks/hybridization.

For rootstocks, a drought tolerant-vigorous-nematode proof rootstock is desired. There are two such options (that I'm aware of, FloridaFruitGeek may know of more), F.sycamorus, and F.palmata. I haven't been able to find much on the drought tolerance of F.Palmata, and F.Sycamorus seems to NEED air layering, as I've not been able to root it no matter how determined. I just lost another air layer of it this week, so even that isn't the easiest.

I've been searching for a male F.Palmata, as I have read that if it is the pollen parent, the offspring are immune to FMV, and the roots are less susceptible to nematodes, a big problem in light, sandy soils, as the trees only seem to thrive for one year, and then are stunted. A few varieties seem to have some resistance such as Excel. It appears that Excel is not hindered by the RKN at all.

Fig breeding is much easier with the wasp, as you can take a caprifig of the desired male and bag it with the fig you are trying to pollinate.

There's really good info here.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2020, 12:32:27 AM by Oolie »

Jct

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2020, 11:26:34 AM »
One of the best places for information on figs is ourfigs.com, it's a really good forum with some very helpful people.  There are a good number of us here in SD growing figs and like mentioned above, CRFG is a good place to increase your collection. 

The only time you might need a rootstock is for some slower growing varieties, such as Black Madeira, but are not needed otherwise.  Most figs grow well on their own roots.

You have some good varieties, Black Madeira being one of the top varietals. Fig Preto is widely considered to be a synonym for BM. Another really good and relatively easily acquired is Smiths.  Unk Pastiliere is supposed to be very good as well, but I believe it requires the fig wasp.  @FruitFool mentioned some really good varieties (I'm sorry I missed Richard's gathering!)

We do have the wasp in San Diego, but only in a few neighborhoods.  Mission Valley, around SDSU, has a colony.  I believe Encinitas may have a small colony as well as a spot in Fallbrook east of I15.  Where ever you find a bunch of feral figs, it's usually a good indication that there is a near-by colony of wasps.  Birds will eat pollinated fig seeds and deposit them.  If the deposit lands in a hospitable location, a tree may grow.  Usually these are caprifigs and require pollination to produce edible fruit, but sometimes you will get a common fig. Occasionally these new common figs will produce something special.  I have 3 feral figs in my neighborhood, two in the Vons shopping center off Black Mtn Road (they're sprouting out of the landscaping and one is definitely a caprifig - it has a lot of mamme figs on it right now).  I was lucky enough to have one sprout up in my backyard back in 2016.  Last summer I tasted the first fig off of it and it was rather interesting.  So it looks like it's a common fig!  Hoping to get a lot more soon.

In any case, I rooted a lot of figs this winter and will have some extra.
LaVerne Manila Mango; Pixie Crunch, Honeycrisp & Gala Apple Trees; Violette De Bordeaux & Black Mission Fig; Santa Rosa Plum & Snow Queen Nectarine; Nagami Kumquat, Pixie Tangerine, Lemon, Australian Finger Lime & Washington Navel Citrus; White & Red Dragon Fruit; Miracle Berry Plant

countryboy1981

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2020, 12:54:33 PM »
Has anyone tried Panache in the the southeast with heat and humidity equivalent to LA (Lower Alabama)?  If so, what have been your results?

sc4001992

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2021, 03:08:42 AM »
I have some great news (at least for me). I just started collecting figs this year after reading Simon's post and suggestions for fig sellers.

After collecting maybe 40+ different varieties, I just noticed this weekend that I have a spot with many new variety seedling trees. The fig trees are over 20-40 yrs old and some are very large trees. I just checked it out and found a few very good tasting figs in the bunch. Will wait until next spring to checkout/taste all of the fig varieties. I may need to come up with some good names for the excellent tasting ones. Here's one red flesh fig I liked and so took a few photos.








« Last Edit: August 31, 2021, 09:46:29 AM by sc4001992 »

fruitnut1944

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2021, 10:53:09 AM »
You'll get the sweetest figs without caprification and by allowing them to dry on the tree until they are shriveled up. Caprification results in a bigger jucier fruit but not a sweeter fruit. On many varieties caprification results in a better tasting fruit but that's all subjective. The caprified fruits are messier, more prone to split, and more likely to spoil. They often can't dry on the tree like uncaprified can in a dry climate.

Uncaprified I do think Black Madeira and it's siblings are the best tasting figs.

sc4001992

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2021, 12:05:11 PM »
fruitnut, you make some good points. I didn't know the real difference in taste of the caprified and uncaprified fruits. I wanted to ask about this of mine only adult fig tree I have which is the common Brown Turkey. I couldn't tell which fruits  was brebas and which ones were the main crop. I have been eating fruits for a few months now and still have fruits ripening now every 2-3 days. Some were very large fruits and many were nice looking but flat shaped and not just splitting but really exploding like a flower. I will post some photos of my Brown Turkey fig fruits showing these characteristics.

Bad news if the BM uncaprified figs are the better tasting since I have many grafts of it now and just last month I found some fig wasps on my capri fig tree.

simon_grow

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2021, 12:13:37 PM »
I have some great news (at least for me). I just started collecting figs this year after reading Simon's post and suggestions for fig sellers.

After collecting maybe 40+ different varieties, I just noticed this weekend that I have a spot with many new variety seedling trees. The fig trees are over 20-40 yrs old and some are very large trees. I just checked it out and found a few very good tasting figs in the bunch. Will wait until next spring to checkout/taste all of the fig varieties. I may need to come up with some good names for the excellent tasting ones. Here's one red flesh fig I liked and so took a few photos.











Awesome find, thatís super exciting. Please do yourself a favor and donít give out the location of these trees. There are people that travel long distances to find new fig trees only to chop them up for scions.

Try to do the seed sink test to find out if the fruit were caprified and if they are caprified, try bagging some fruit next season to see if they are common or not. Please keep us posted on these trees. If you can get Brix readings, that would be great.

Simon

sc4001992

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2021, 12:35:02 PM »
Yes, I can do that but probably next year since I'm still on crutches and can't get around that easily yet. I saw another fig on one tree that was much larger fruit (up high on tree) and it looked like a honey type fig, lots of bees eating the flesh but I couldn't reach it to check it out.

Tlaloc

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2021, 12:57:59 PM »
My favorites for this year (2021) has to be the Vista. It has a thick skin, which holds up better to figeaters and sometimes the birds. And the flavor is very nice.
Black Madiera is always a yearly winner. But in my yard, they tend to split.
I'm not into the honey figs, and yellow long neck/golden rainbow (same variety).
New to my yard was the China Creek red from BrianM. This was was super sweet, and dries nicely on my table to a candy-like consistency.

fruitnut1944

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2021, 03:06:01 PM »
fruitnut, you make some good points. I didn't know the real difference in taste of the caprified and uncaprified fruits. I wanted to ask about this of mine only adult fig tree I have which is the common Brown Turkey. I couldn't tell which fruits  was brebas and which ones were the main crop. I have been eating fruits for a few months now and still have fruits ripening now every 2-3 days. Some were very large fruits and many were nice looking but flat shaped and not just splitting but really exploding like a flower. I will post some photos of my Brown Turkey fig fruits showing these characteristics.

Bad news if the BM uncaprified figs are the better tasting since I have many grafts of it now and just last month I found some fig wasps on my capri fig tree.
In CA if your figs are exploding you are likely watering too much or they are getting too much pollination. Unpollinated figs only split/explode if they get too much water during final expansion. Too much pollen can cause the same thing.

I didn't say uncaprified BM was the best tasting fig. I said sweetest. Caprified figs can be terrific with flavors that unpollinated don't have. But they aren't sweeter they have too much juice to be sweeter.

Uncaprifed figs that shrivel on the tree can reach 45+% brix. But there's no juice to measure brix. They need to be diluted 2x with water, finely chopped in a blender, and measure brix of the resulting solution then multiply by 2.

simon_grow

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2021, 06:36:33 PM »
For those that have tasted a fig and think they donít like it, donít make your final judgement on this fruit until youíve had a properly ripened top tier fig grown in the ground on an older, established tree.

If you are judging a fig by supermarket Fruit, itís like picking up a Tommy Atkins mango from the supermarket that was picked two weeks early and judging all mangos by this fruit.

I thought I hated figs because my first exposure to them was from fig Newtonís and then the first fresh figs I had were probably store bought brown turkeys that were picked under ripe.

It wasnít until I tasted a neighbors fruit that overhung the fence that I knew what a real fig should taste like.

Hereís a Strawberry Verte






And Hative d'Argenteuil



And NV1






The NV1 fig is like eating strawberry jam but with more concentrated berry flavors. Itís also a sugar bomb as you can see from the Brix readings. Itís the Sweet Tart or Pina Colada of Figs, very concentrated flavors!

Thereís berry figs, honey figs, sugar figs, figgy figs and all sorts of combinations. If you donít like one type, try another type, you might like it.

Simon

sc4001992

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2021, 07:39:10 PM »
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« Last Edit: August 28, 2021, 09:02:01 PM by sc4001992 »

sc4001992

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2021, 07:43:14 PM »
Here's figs from 6-22-21:









sc4001992

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2021, 07:50:50 PM »
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« Last Edit: August 28, 2021, 09:03:38 PM by sc4001992 »

sc4001992

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #22 on: August 24, 2021, 07:54:28 PM »
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« Last Edit: August 28, 2021, 09:03:09 PM by sc4001992 »

sc4001992

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2021, 07:57:42 PM »
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« Last Edit: August 28, 2021, 09:03:58 PM by sc4001992 »

sc4001992

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Re: Best tasting fig for SoCal?
« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2021, 08:02:28 PM »
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« Last Edit: August 28, 2021, 09:02:44 PM by sc4001992 »

 

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