Group Title: Bulletin New Series ;, no. 69
Title: Fig growing in Florida.
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00088896/00001
 Material Information
Title: Fig growing in Florida.
Alternate Title: New series bulletin - Florida State Department of Agriculture ; 69
Physical Description: 8 p. ; 22 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Florida. Dept. of Agriculture.
Publisher: State of Florida, Dept. of Agriculture
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Fla.
Publication Date: 1934
 Subjects
Subject: Fig -- Florida.
Cookery (Figs)
 Notes
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: "July, 1934."
Funding: Bulletin (Florida. Dept. of Agriculture) ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00088896
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002454138
notis - AMF9448
oclc - 41483271

Full Text

-- -- -- --


New Series


No. 69


FIG GROWING

IN

FLORIDA


State of Florida
Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
Tallahassee
July, 1934










FIGS


So far as known the fig is a native of Western Asia, from
Syria to Caucasus and Kurdistan. Like the date and citrus it
is a fruit of tropical and subtropical countries. It was used ex-
tensively before cereal and grains came into general cultivation.
Botanically it is a fruit of various species of Ficus Carica,
belonging to the Moraceae family. It is edible fruit, canned,
preserved or dried. Many tons of dried figs are consumed in
the United States annually.
Found wild in the earliest inhabited countries, the fig has
accompanied man in all his wanderings wherever a suitable
climate has permitted it to grow.*
It was common in Greece in the time of Plato, was carried
into Italy, Spain and Gaul. It was introduced into Englan
prior to 1257 but has only maintained a precarious existence i
the south of England. It is grown in the southern states, and
has been commercialized in Southern California and Texas
more than elsewhere in this country.
When seed for planting are wanted a process kr.own as
caprification is the name given to the operation necessary to
produce fertile seed. It consists of tying branches of the wild
caprifig in the tops of the cultivated trees as the caprifig. is the
only fig bearing staminate flower. Because of the peculiar
structure of the fig fruit, the flower living inside the receptacle,
the process of pollination cannot be accomplished either by the
wind or by ordinary insects. A peculiar humenopterous insect,
called Blastophaga, is an inhabitant of these wild figs in their
native country and also visits the cultivated varieties. It is to
these that pollination is due. This applies to the Smyrna and
Caprifigs.
Figs are propagated also by allowing the limbs to reach tie
ground and take roots which they will do with little effort on
the part of the grower. There are numerous varieties which
attain edible perfection without the aid of pollen of the Capri-
fig and without developing seed of this class the so-cabed Mis-
sion fig bears two crops annually, the early figs or "brebas"
and the late or summer figs. This subclass includes most of
the figs of Southern California. Another group known as the
San Pedro fig which are grown wherever figs are grown in the
*We read of it in Ancient scriptures, for Isaiah hath said, "Let them tekt a lump of
figs, and lay it for a plaster upon the boil, and he shall recover." Isaiah 38:21.
So it was used as a remedy for boils that long ago, B. C. 713.
"Eat ye every one of his vine and every one of his fig tree." Isaiah 36:16.
The fig is mentioned fourteen times in the scripture. The last time in Revelatibns 6:13.
It seems to have served a useful purpose in the Garden of Eden: Genesis 3:7.






SFIG GROWING IN FLORIDA 3

southern states and which mature only one crop of fruit an-
nually. The varieties grown in Florida are the Celeste, Brown
Turkey, Magnolia, Blue Genoa, Green Sachia and Brunswick.
The fig is easily propagated by budding, grafting, cuttings
or layers. In general, cuttings serve the purpose best. They are
made from the ripened wood of the previous season's growth.
As the fig is not a hardy plant, its cultivation has its limita-
tions.
The fig territory in the United States extends from Virginia
around the southern border states to the Pacific Ocean, the
greatest fig industry being in California. The dry climate
renders it possible for the dried fig industry to reach millions
of pounds annually. The United States imports twenty odd
million pounds of Smyrna figs annually. Outside of California,
Arizona and New Mexico, the fig industry must be largely
confined to canned figs; rains prevent the fig from being
handled by the dry process. They go out as preserves or other
forms of sweet fig products.
The fig is long lived when conditions are favorable, but is
delicate under bad treatment. The trees should have ample
space in orchards. The roots run close to the surface and much
longer than the tree is high. On good land with a mulched
surface and no interference the limbs of a tree will grow to a
spread of twenty feet in diameter. Of course the average
orchard as we see them does not reach this size. Six or eight
years is required for maturity.

Cultivation
The cultivation of the fig varies in different countries, but
certain characteristics maintain in all countries. The wood of
the tree is brittle and sensitive to breaks and cuts. Very little
pruning is advisable. Reckless culling and breaking the limbs
will destroy the trees. Plowing and ripping up the root system
will kill them. The root knot will kill them-a disease produced
by the nematode-a minute worm which infests the soft fibrous
roots. This pest is most troublesome in light sandy soils and
in cultivated orchards.
The fig will grow on a variety of soils but thrives best on
backyard and garden conditions. Trees planted near a chicken
house where the roots run under the shaded rich soil and are
allowed to grow up unpruned will show a wonderful growth.
The amount of fruit obtained from a tree thus ideally situated
will stimulate one to calculate enormous profits from an orchard
of such trees, but when the orchard is attempted disillusion-
ment is sure to follow. The tree requires an abundance of plant
food and is a surface feeder. This renders it necessary to have
a mulch to shade the soil and keep moisture near the surface.





4 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

It requires moisture but will not grow on wet soggy seepy land.
Sour soils should have lime. Commercial fertilizer can be used
to advantage but natural mould and mulch should be supplied
in addition.
The fig will not stand deep plowing and close cultivation.
Neither will it do well if pruned high so as to present a sym-
metrical appearance and allow space under the limbs high
enough to walk under. The expense of providing a mulch for
large acreage has deterred orchardists from developing the
industry on a large scale in Florida.
In propagating by cuttings they should be made in the
winter and should be taken from wood grown the previous
season, preferably from the lower limbs as top cutting damages
the trees more than the lower limbs. If cut at the right season
a milky white sap oozes out of the cut surface. If the soil where
the cuttings are to be planted is moist a short cutting, 6 to 10
inches, will suffice, but if the soil is dry they must be long enough
to reach the moist dirt-even if two or more feet. Cuts should
be made at the joint. This is important as the fig has a solid
stem at the joint but has a pith in the stem between the joints
which quickly decays, and the wood will always die back to the
first joint. If decay once starts it will likely extend beyond the
joint and destroy the cutting. Insert the cutting in moist but
well-drained dirt to near the top of the cutting. It is always
best to plant the cutting where it is to grow as transplanting
will delay the grow approximately a year. However, cuttings
may be buried until spring, as with grape cuttings.
In keeping down weeds and other wild growth it is best to
do so as much as possible with application of mulch but weeds
may be cut frequently with grass scythe if the use of the mower
is impracticable because of the low hanging limbs. In the fig
district of Texas light disking during the early Spring and
Summer to keep down the weeds is practiced.
All cuts should be made at a joint, whether for propagation
or for pruning, and as a rule the branch should be completely
removed rather than cut back. When limbs are cut short it
causes numerous shoots to sprout and makes too thick a foliage.
Pruning can best be made by pinching back buds where limbs
are not wanted.
Among the drawbacks to fig growing in Florida is the fre-
ouency of rain during the ripening season of the fruit. This
causes the figs to sour on the tree. Another trouble comes of
the depredation of birds. The ripe fruit offers a great feast for
various kinds of birds. The Bluejay is a ravenous eater but he
is by no means alone in relishing the sweet fig.
The fig is a fruit that cannot be picked green and allowed to
ripen. It must be allowed to ripen on the tree and then it is
too soft and near the point of decay to bear shipping. This






FIG GROWING IN FLORIDA 5

renders it impossible to grow figs for shipping in the fresh state.
The green fig contains an acid milky juice which not only has
a disagreeable flavor but is unhealthful.
Gathering the fruit is a difficult and clumsy process. The
tree is of a brittle wood and the bark easily skinned; therefore,
the gatherer should never climb around in the tree. The figs
that cannot be reached from the ground must be reached by
some form of ladder. A clever device can be made by taking an
ordinary baking powder can, or other tin cup, by filing the edge
of the cup to cutting edge and fastening it to a pole of any
desired length. The cup should be fastened rigidly so as to
allow it to be used as a cutter. The cup can easily be made to
cut the fruit from the twig and catch it as it drops.
There is a growing market for fig preserves and a much wider
market could be created by proper advertising. In canning the
figs should be gathered when still firm enough to hold their
shape. The amount of sugar that should be added depends on
the variety that is being used. A pound of sugar to four pounds
of fruit would perhaps suit most tastes.
Flavors can be added if preferred. Ginger root or orange
peel too give a variety of flavoring. Sweet pickles can be made
by adding spices and vinegar. It is a tedious task, but the fruit
is sometimes peeled before canning-some prefer it-but for
appearance, to cook them just as they came from the tree, stem
and all, produces the best result. Dehydration would seem to
be an ideal way of keeping figs, but all attempts at developing
dehydration in this humid climate on a commercial scale have
proved disappointing. The main reason being that the de-
hydrated product deteriorates so rapidly when once opened to
the air.
It is possible to develop a market for a small fig orchard by
building up a clientele of customers for the fresh fig, picked and
carried to the homes of the customer. Ripe figs can be shipped
short distances only without refrigeration and refrigerated figs
must be used at once when taken from the cold storage.
The following recipes, taken from a book published by the
department, "Florida Fruits and Vegetables for the Family
Menus," give some directions for the use of this fruit:

RECIPES
Figs
Fresh figs are best when first picked.
Breakfast Food
Serve ripe, peeled or unpeeled figs, with or without cream.
No sugar is needed.






6 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Preserving Figs
Select firm, sound, mature but not fully ripe figs.

Fig Preserves
1 pound figs 1 pound sugar 4 cups water
Sort over and weigh. Wash dust from figs by placing in wire
baskets, or colander, and dipping in and out of boiling water.
Add sugar in proportion of 1 pound to 1 pound of figs. Four
cups of water. Cook, without stirring, to 224 degrees. Allow
to stand, covered, over night to "plump." Pack figs in sterilized
jars. Fill to overflowing with sirup heated to boiling point.
Partially seal and simmer 15 minutes for pints.
Lemon sliced through' the peel may be added just before
processing. Spices or ginger may be added but the real flavor
of the fig is pleasing.
Sweet Spiced Figs
5 pints figs 1 stick cinnamon
1 cup vinegar 1 teaspoon spice
1 pint sugar 1 teaspoon mace
1 pint water
Wash and dip figs as for preserving. Place in boiling water
for a few minutes and add sugar, vinegar and spices. Cook to
2220 or 2240, or until the figs are clear. Let stand over night.
Pack and process 30 minutes at simmering temperature or 15
minutes at boiling point.

Fig Conserve
To 1 quart of broken figs and the juice and pulp of 2 lemons
add 2 cups sugar and cook until right consistency for conserve.
Add 2/3 cup pecan meats. Remove from heat. Pack and
process 15 minutes at simmering.
Note.-Grated lemon rind adds to the flavor.

Fig Spread
This is made from the broken figs or over-ripe stock. Clip
off stems, run through a coarse food grinder. Measure. Place
in heavy aluminum kettle and cook until thickened. Add 1/
measure of sugar to one measure of fig pulp and cook to 221 F.
Pack in hot jars, seal and process by boiling 5 minutes.






FIG GROWING IN FLORIDA


S TABLE OF PRODUCTION BY COUNTIES, 1932
Figs
COUNTY Bearing
Trees Crates Value
Alachua ................. 947 635 $ 1,445.00
Baker ................... 151 63 185.70
Bay ..................... 207 95 209.00
Bradford ................ ..... .......
Brevard ................. 34 21 37.00
Broward ................ ..... ..... ........
Calhoun ................. 1,276 591 599.00
Charlotte ................ .. .. ...
Citrus ................. 243 197 392.50
Clay .................... 125 88 232.00
Collier .................. .. ... ....
Columbia ................ 1,082 932 2,578.00
D ade ................... 51 ... ...... .
D eSoto .................. ..... ..... ....
Dixie ................... 30 38 60.00
Duval ................... 1,764 ..... 4,467.00
Escambia ................ 212 129 242.00
Flagler .................. 3 2 4.00
Franklin .............. 677 1,356 2,039.00
Gadsden ................. 725 705 702.00
G ilchrist ................ ..... ..... ........
G lades .................. 6 ..... .
Gulf .................... 271 59 149.00
H am ilton ................ ..... ..... ....
Hardee .................. 6 1 6.00
Hendry ................. 8 ..... 50.00
H ernando ............... ..... ..... ...
Highlands ............... 27 2 4.00
Hillsborough ............. 2,187 1,5791/2 3,037.00
Holmes ................. 1,022 1,731 3,786.00
Indian River ............. ..... .... ........
Jackson ............... 2,543 4,012 4,114.00
Jefferson ................ 44 66 66.00
Lafayette .............. 90 43 113.00
Lake .................... 82 36 104.00
Lee ..................... 35 37 76.00
Leon .................... 1,870 3,146 3,199.00
Levy .................... 395 ..... 1,426.00
Liberty .................. 119 ..... 915.00
Madison ................. 312 752 627.00
M anatee ................. ..... ..... ........
Marion .................. 102 86 85.00
M artin .................. ..... ..... ........






8 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE -

TABLE OF PRODUCTION BY COUNTIES, 1932-Contiv
Figs
COUNTY Bearing


Trees
M onroe ................ .. .....
Nassau .................. 42
Okaloosa ................ 912
Okeechobee .............. .....
Orange .................. .....
Osceola .................. ..
Palm Beach .............. 12
Pasco ................... 471
Pinellas ................. .....
Polk .................... 316
Putnam ................. 34
Santa Rosa .............. 448
St. Johns ................ 416
St. Lucie ................ 1
Sarasota ................ 1
Seminole ................ 9
Sumter .................. 18
Suwannee ............... 460
Taylor .................. 563
Union ................... 27
Volusia ................. 2,000
W akulla ................. ....
W alton .................. 247
Washington ............. 681

Total ............... 23,304


Crates


25
44


20
413

904
34
961
172

1
7
87
398
57
40
1,952


1,416

22,933


Val ,


.00
9E i'W


1,00
14.00
152.00
1,029.00
1,306.00
207.00
3,825.50

1,217.00
1,416.00

$46,286.00




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