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Mailbag: A day in the life of a detective

Unripened figs are a problem my inbox knows too well. As with many of the questions I receive, one that came in this week required a little back-and-forth. Here's the most recent exchange:

Can you help? Our fig trees grow bigs figs but never ripen. They are still as hard as a rock as of today. -- Iris

Hi, Iris. Did the tree die back to the ground last winter or did you wrap or bury to protect it? Lots of times if the tree dies back and new growth sprouts in spring, that new growth won't be mature enough to ripen fruit. Also, if you overfertilized, the tree might have put all its energy into lush vegetative growth and wasn't strong enough to ripen the fruit. Any kind of stress can inhibit ripening, too, and this summer many plants suffered from heat stress. Water stress and root damage stress also can be to blame. Regular watering and mulching should help, in that case. Unfortunately, as you probably know, figs won't ripen off the tree.

They used to turn purple at the right time, up until two years ago. I have one purple and one white with big figs, but hard. Thanks.

Hi, Iris. How old is the tree? Typically, they take a few years before they can ripen fruit.

Stay tuned...

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