Q Please provide information relative to the care and pruning of fig trees, specifically the Brown Turkey species. Also what to do with suckers coming up from underground and bearing fruit.
- R.T., Los Angeles
A According to Ray Givan, a fig expert with the North American Fruit Explorers (NAFEX) organization, the Brown Turkey fig grown in California is not noted for vigor, so it is easy to control. Pruning above-ground limbs of this particular fig is usually unnecessary.
When your Brown Turkey leafs out in spring, cut off all dead and damaged shoots, he recommends. Also, remove twiggy growth.
Fertilize with 10-10-10 fertilizer or an organic formula plus compost. Repeat fertilization monthly during the growing season unless you use a slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote (it needs to be used only once or twice, depending on the length of your growing season).
If you see any suckers and do not need them to replace the main stem(s), pull them out by hand. Don't cut them off. Pulling works better.
Even bush-form fig plants should be limited to four to five main stems. Controlling suckers is important in many varieties.
Some varieties of figs do need pruning for best production. Mission and Alma and most container-grown figs are good examples. In these cases, remove 50 percent of last year's growth as well as dead and damaged limbs and twiggy shoots.
For more information on growing fruit, Mr. Givan recommends these Web sites:
California Rare Fruit Growers: www.crfg.org
Ray's Figs: http://home.earthlink.net/
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