If you plant a fig tree this year, how many years will you have to wait to enjoy delicious figs from that tree? Much like fig tree cold hardiness, this can be a tricky question to answer. But we'll do our best and share our experiences with some varieties that tend to be faster than others.
How Old Is the Fig Tree You're Planting?
If you want a somewhat accurate estimate as to when your fig trees might start producing, you'll probably want to know the age of the tree you're planting. Even if the tree has been in a 3-5 gal pot sitting at a nursery for a couple years, it's important to know the age of the tree.
If you've purchased a fig tree from us, that tree is usually less than a year old. We start propagating cuttings from our orchard in November and start shipping those trees the following spring. Our trees won't technically be a year old until the following fall when we start propagating new trees again.
If you purchase a fig tree from a local nursery, big box store, or another online retailer, you may not know the age of that fig tree. The height of the tree is not always a good indication of tree age. Some fig varieties will grow very fast (3-4 ft) in their first year while other varieties will poke along the first year or two.
Can You Get Figs in the First Year?
We do have some fig varieties that can produce viable figs in the first year, but this is pretty rare. Conadria is one of our fastest-growing varieties and we've seen some fig trees from this variety gain as much as 3-4 ft. of new growth in the first year. With this much new growth on the tree, you'll often get a few first year figs that develop.
These first year figs usually don't ripen, but occasionally they will. If you get an edible fig from a first year tree, consider yourself lucky and enjoy your first fig! But for most varieties, you won't be rewarded until the second or third year.
Why Won't My Figs Ripen?
As we've discussed in previous blogs, all our varieties are "common fig" varieties that don't require pollination to produce edible figs. If your fig tree is producing figs that never ripen completely, it's probably because the tree is still too young.
While fast-growing varieties like Conadria and LSU Tiger can give you some nice, edible figs in the second year, other varieties like Violette de Bourdeaux (VDB) might not. Some of the slower-growing varieties like VDB might have figs on the tree on the second year, but they'll usually never become soft and edible in the second year.
Production Timelines Can Vary by Location
Some varieties can take 3-4 years before the figs ripen properly each year and your patience is rewarded. But it's tough to establish a hard set of rules as far as production timelines for each variety. This could vary depending on your climate.
In a warmer climate like south Georgia where we are located, our fig trees have a much longer growing season. In a cooler climate, the trees aren't able to grow as long before the cool weather arrives and the dormant period starts. As such, these estimates of "years to production" can vary greatly.
How Do You Know When Figs Are Ripe?
This is why we have photos of the ripe figs on all of our variety product pages. We want you to be able to see what a ripe fig for each variety should look like, so you'll know what to expect. Not all varieties ripen with the same exterior or interior color, and that's why the ripe fig photos can be especially helpful for new fig growers.