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Introduction

When it comes to growing food crops there will be no escaping pests and diseases and this includes figs. Mother Nature likes balance and there are pests and diseases for every single species of plant on this planet. It gets worse if large areas of the same crop is repeatedly planted.

» Large urban areas also create micro climates which are a perfect breeding and hiding place for all types of pests and diseases.

» There is good news and there is bad news when it comes to figs in our area. The good news is that there is only a few major problems with fig production but the bad news is that if nothing is done about these problems you will have no figs to harvest (this counts for all other fruit crops as well).

Important Tips


Hygiene:

» Good hygienic practices in and around your orchard is very important.
» Regularly remove spent, rotting and fallen fruit.
» Throw it away or bury it at least 1m deep in the soil. Do not throw it on the compost heap as pests and diseases can survive there.
» Inspect your trees carefully at least every week and act immediately if any problems are noticed.
» Keep the area around the trees neat and weed free.

Using chemical or enviromental friendly products?

» As technology and cultural techniques improve the use of chemicals will hopefully be much less in future.
» Unfortunately, some pests and diseases (especially in the Agricultural sector) can only succesfully be controlled by chemicals to justify the economic viability and to keep up with demand.
» However, some pests can easily be controlled by other less harmful means.
» Always use chemicals only as a last resort.
» If chemicals are used responsibly and sparingly their use can greatly improve yields without doing too much damage to the environment or impact negatively on your health.

Using Chemicals

» Always use chemicals as a last resort!
» Always be very careful when using chemical sprays!
» Read and follow all instructions carfefully!
» Do not exceed the recommended strenghts.
» Make sure about the maximum waiting period before fruit is safe for consumption.
» Always wash the fruit properly before consumption.
» Always supervise your gardener when using chemicals - be present at all times!
» Keep away/out of reach of children and animals.
» Always use gloves, wear shoes and be fully clothed.
» Wear safety glasses and wear safety masks (respirators).
» Take a shower or bath after working with chemicals.
» Avoid spraying chemicals on windy days.
» Try spraying early in the morning or late afternoon. Avoid spraying during the hottest part of the day.
» Destroy empty chemical containers in a safe and responsible way (do not re-use them for something else!).
» Wash out all spraying equipment properly after use.
» Adding a mixing agent greatly improves effectiveness.
» Spray the plant properly and thoroughly so that all parts are covered with the spray. If you do not spray properly, pests and diseases can build up resistance against chemicals and it may lose its effectiveness.
» Stick with your spraying programme. Sometimes follow-up sprays are needed to get rid of pests for good.
» Act immediately on any problems as it gets more difficult to control large outbreaks.

Fig Flies


(Silba Adipata)

» For me, personally, the most serious pest and threat to fig production in our area. It was first observed in the Western Cape Province in the summer of 2000 and quickly spread to the rest of the country. It is believed that these flies were accidentally imported with some fresh figs from overseas destined for the local fresh produce market. The fig fly occurs naturally in the Mid East and Mediterranean where the fig originates from.

» This very annoying little fly seeks out small developing figs detecting the smell of sugar present in the fig milk which is very strong in young developing figs. The female fly normally lays her eggs close to the ostiole(small opening at the bottom of the fig) and then the small white larvae burrows their way into the fig fruit and starts eating it from the inside.

» Sometimes larvae penetrate through other parts of the skin leaving small black dots.

» You will not know that you have an infestation until you notice that immature small figs start to colour prematurely and drop off the tree in their hundreds. Only if the fig is cut open will you see the telltale brown centre of the fig sometimes crawling with small white grubs. This is of course one of the main reasons of figs dropping off in South Africa.

» The flies can have up to 5 generations per season if it is not controlled. The worst infestations happen from mid summer onwards when temperatures are at their highest. Infestations are also very high in areas where a lot of fig trees are planted.

» The only way to control this pest is to start spraying as soon as the first small figs appear and to stick to your spraying programme.

» All figs that dropped off should be removed immediately and thrown away. Do not bury or throw them on the compost heap as the small grubs will burrow into the ground to pupate and start a whole new infestation. The pupae can also succesfully overwinter between old leaves and figs as well as in the soil.


Quarantine Control:

» The pest is widespread in areas with high concentrations of fig trees. Some isolated farms and small holdings are free of the pest. To keep it that way all new fig plants should be inspected carefully and all figs, no matter how small, should be removed. The figs should be removed and disposed of before you transport the plants to your property. When arriving at your premises the whole plant as well as the soil should be drenched with a solution of Cypermethrin. Do not purchase or bring any fig fruit from other sources onto your property.

Chemical Control:

» The general public can purchase any product containing Cypermethrin(Pyrethroid) such as Knox Worm or Garden Ripcord. For commercial farmers Lebaycid or Vantex is recommended which is only available to the Agricultural sector and not to the public (at this stage there are no products specifically registered for this pest).

» Recently an new pesticide for use in the Agricultural sector, "Delegate 250 WG", was specifically registered for controlling Fig fly. It is distributed by Dow Agro Sciences.

» Cypermethrin is normally diluted at a ratio of 1ml on 10lt of water. Adding a wetting agent will drastically improve the effectiveness of the pesticide. It is very important to spray every second week in areas with heavy infestations or monthly in areas with low infestations. Cypermethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid and considered less harmfull and softer on the enviroment compared to other traditional insecticides. It is very important to read warnings and instructions carefully on the label provided! Cypermethrin controls various other pests and should therefore keep your figs relatively disease free. It is very important also to check for the minimum waiting period before figs can be harvested after spraying (normally 7 days).

Bait Station Control:

» Alternatively, bait stations can be hung away from trees . This is a more enviromentally friendly way of controlling fig and fruit fly pests but it is, unfortunately, not 100% effective. In order for this method to work you are going to have to change the bait liquid on a 2 weekly basis. There are a few recipes available. We are going to discuss the best 3.

» Bait stations work on the principle of attracting the flies and trapping them in a container filled with liquid into which they will eventually fall and drown. You can purchase expensive bait stations or use cheap soft drink bottles.

» For your homemade container use a 2lt plastic soft drink bottle. Ensure that the cap is screwed on. Using a drill make about 5-6 small holes at the top part of the bottle about 5mm in diameter. Avoid making the holes too big. You will need one bottle for about 5 mature fig trees. Fill the bottle to about one third of its capacity and add one of the following mixes:

Recipe one:

(This method was developed by Dries of the company "Protek")

» One tablespoon of Protek "Fly Bait"
» One tablespoon of sugar
» One teaspoon of "Bovril"

Recipe two:

(This recipe is recommended by Alternafruit in the Western Cape )

» One tablespoon of "Marmite"
» 2grams of ammonium sulphate

Recipe three:

(Recommended by Keith Wilson)

» One tablespoon of sugar
» One teaspoon of beer yeast

(All recipes are to be diluted in 1 lt of water).

It is believed that the fig fly likes a more sour/salty to sweet bait as fig milk in young figs are not yet that sweet as when it is mature.

What I have noticed is that some varieties are more prone to attack than others. For instance "Parisienne" is the one variety which is always attacked first and very hard. Other varieties like "Ronde de Bordeuax" seems to be left alone. The breba crop of "White Genoa" is normally spared but the main crop is attacked.

Birds


» If you live in one of the major urban centres of South Africa this will be a major problem.

» Large urban areas like the Gauteng city province creates a micro climate where a wide variety of birds breed that are normally not found here naturally. The bird populations are also much higher in number here than in their native areas due to the abundance of food found in people's gardens.

» It is not only figs that are targeted but most fruit and vegetable crops are also attacked.

Controlling the problem

» Birds normally target fully ripened figs. Try to harvest figs just before they are fully ripe.

» A feeding station put far away from your orchard will keep them occupied and hopefully attract them away from your figs.

» The most effective way, however, to stop the problem is to either grow your figs and other food crops under shade nets or cover them with bird net during the ripening stage.

» You can also cover your figs with organza bags just before they start to ripen.

» Old Cd's hanging on strings from branches also help to scare off some birds.

Stem Borer


(Phryneta spinator)

» Also known by its common name "the long horn beetle".

» This is a very serious pest, especially in the Western Cape and Limpopo areas. The pest is not only limited to the fig tree but attacks a wide range of other tree species as well. This pest is indigenous to the African continent.

» The female beetles lay their eggs on the base of the stems that are normally close to the ground.

» After hatching the small larvae start to feed on the softer bark. As the larvae grow they tunnel deeper into the harder wood and start hollowing out the branches.

» It takes about two and a half years for the larvae to mature and to develop into adult beetles which starts the infestation cycle all over again.

» Infestations are small at first but increase rapidly if nothing is done. Typical signs of infestations are small holes on the branches and traces of wood shavings. Pieces of bark may come off and whole branches can die back or break off. The adult beatles also feed on the young figs, branches and leaves.




Photo copyright (all 6): Full credit and thanks to Barbara Mueller for allowing us to use these great pictures.

Control:

» With this disease, prevention is better than cure!

» Heavily infested trees should rather be destroyed and the wood burned or completely removed from the property.

» It is very important to inspect your trees regularly and at the first sign of infestation treatment should be started immediately.

» If you live in an area prone to this pest, regular monthly preventative spraying should be done. You will have spray for mediterranean fig fly anyway so you can use the same insecticide for both (products containing Cypermethrin).

Environmentally friendly control is difficult but achievable:

» For small infestations, long pieces of wire can be pushed down into the tunnels thus killing the larvae.

» With prevention techniques I have heard of farmers using pieces of hessian cloth that were soaked in tar and then wrapped around the bottom one meter of the main trunk and also on the immediate surrounding soil. The beetles will find it difficult to lay their eggs on the bark.

» Another method that is being used by farmers is to wrap the main trunks with fine plastic or wire mesh. Start wrapping the tree from the root crown upwards to the main scaffold branches and as high as possible. The mesh prevents the beetles from laying their eggs directly onto the bark of the tree.

» With especially large orchards good hygiene is important by keeping the surrounding soil clean and free of weeds. It is also important to remove all dead pieces of wood and bark where grubs can live in or any dead trees or shrubs found nearby.

» It is very important to do regular inspections and to act immediately if there is any larvae or beetles noticed.

Chemically dealing with infestations:

» If you already have an infestation it is unfortunately a totally different story. The problem is that the fat white grubs (larvae) are hiding inside tunnels that they ate open for themselves. The only way to destroy them is by injecting insecticide into these tunnels or killing them by pushing a wire into these tunnels. This is, unfortunately, not very effective, very time-consuming and only recommended for light infestations and small trees.

» The best treatment is to use a systemic insecticide. Systemic means that the poison is taken up by the cells and tissue of the plant. Remember most insecticides are contact based. The advantage about these insecticides is that it will spread throughout the plant and reach in all the places where they are hiding where contact insecticides can't. Another advantage is that the plant will be protected for longer as it can't be washed off by the rain as it is taken up into the cells. Also, it is easy to treat big trees as the poison can be taken up by the roots by watering the base of the plant with the poison.

» VERY IMPORTANT: This insecticide is like "Antibiotics" and should be used properly otherwise the insects can build up a resistance against it. The bigger the tree, the more dosages should be given. For instance, a 5 year old tree will need at least 25lt of mix ,weekly for a month and this can only be given when there is sap flow that is during the growing season (not when dormant). I can't stress this enough: it is useless giving a big tree small quantities of poison and especially if only one dosage is given.

» It is best to drench the soil around the tree. The ingredient "imaldoclopirid" is what you are looking for. It is sold as "Kohinor, Aphicide plus or Complete". The dosage is as follows: 1ml per 1lt of water. The plant should be drenched and in severe cases also be sprayed, if possible. Remember to do 3 follow-up treatments at weekly intervals. A rough guide is to give 5lt of mix per every year of the age of the tree with a maximum of 50lt (for very large trees).

» The tree should be protected up to 6 months after the 4 applications and should wipe out the infestation. Thereafter you should switch back to preventative spraying with Cypermethrin.

ONE WARNING: DO NOT CONSUME ANY OF THE FIGS DURING TREATMENT. SYSTEMIC POISON TAKES A LONG TIME TO BE WORKED OUT OF THE PLANT'S SYSTEM. A PERIOD OF AT LEAST 3 MONTHS SHOULD BE GIVEN!


Souring


» Souring of figs occurs normally during damp and humid conditions. Only figs that have started to ripen are affected.

» Souring of figs is caused by a fungus which is primarily spread by small flies called "Vinegar Flies". They are attracted to overripe, rotting figs but they are also attracted to any other kinds of fruit. Furthermore, they multiply very quickly during damp and wet weather.

» Good sanitation practices should be followed by regular removal of spoiled, split or rotten figs from the tree. Regular spraying for fig flies and stemborers should keep them in check.

» Improved or good air circulation will also greatly reduce infection rates.

» Souring can also lead to other diseases like Botrytis (rotting) of the figs, but yet, again good sanitation practices should keep this in check.

» Some fig varieties are more prone to these diseases than others and more suitable varieties should be planted, especially in areas with humid and wet summers. Fig varieties with small ostioles or varieties which produces a sugar drop on the ostiole should be chosen.

Fig Rust


» This disease is common in the summer rainfall areas and especially troublesome during very hot and humid summers. It most often occurs during the months from December until February.

» This fungal disease causes brown, powdery bumps on the underside of leaves. Small brownish patches can also occur on the top of the leaves. In serious cases all the leaves can drop off. It occurs during hot and humid weather and especially in areas with poor air circulation. It is easily controlled by using fungicides containing copper like "Virikop" or Ludwigs "Coppercount".


Splitting


» Splitting of fig fruits happens normally during very humid and wet weather and is worsened if the fig trees were kept to dry and suddenly receives a lot of water.

» Some varieties are also more prone to this than others. If you live in areas with overly wet and humid conditions it is best to plant resistant varieties like "Deanna" and "Black Mission".

» Varieties like "White Genoa" and "Adam" split easily.

» Although you can't do anything about the weather, you can lessen the impact of the weather a little bit by watering your fig tree at regular intervals and not letting the soil become too dry. Under no circumstances should the fig tree be irrigated from above as figs will take up the water directly through the skin. Only water the fig tree at root level.

» When it comes to high humidity there is little that you can do. If possible, plant your fig tree in an area with good air circulation.

» The good news is that only figs that are close to ripening are affected. Luckily the follow up figs may escape the wet humid periods all together.

Frost


» Figs are remarkably hardy and they tolerate a good deal of frost.

» Most figs will withstand temperatures as low as -5°C but some varieties can tolerate temperatures as low as -10°C.

» South Africa's climate varies between USA Zones 8-10.

We use the the following terminology to classify frost hardiness:
Tender below 1°C
Semi-hardy below -3C
Hardy below -5°C
Very Hardy below -10°C
(The above indicates at which minimum temperature the plant will sustain noticeable frost damage.)

» Frost is not generally a factor in suburban areas due to a micro climate that is created. It is the more exposed areas like farms, small holdings and lowlying river valley properties that have the biggest problem with frost.

The following areas experience severe frost during winter and special care should be taken in choosing the correct varieties:
Far Southern Gauteng, Western Mpumalanga, Free State, Southern Northwest, Northern areas of the Eastern Cape, high mountainous areas of the Western Cape and the southern part of the Northern Cape.

» Winters are often underestimated in these areas and this is the reason why these regions mainly consist of grasslands and very few indigenous trees.

» Black frost is the biggest challenge in these areas. Black frost occurs when all the air freezes from groundlevel up into the atmosphere. It worsens ifin the presence of wind.

» Black frost normally occurs 1 or 2 days after large cold fronts have passed over inland areas.

» Black frost normally does not cause any formation of icecrystals on plants but literally "dry freezes" the whole plant.

» Snow rarely falls on the inland areas of South Africa with the exception of the high mountainous areas. Snow is generally not a problem for figs but the trouble starts after the snow has melted and black frost sets in.


There are actually some tricks that you can do if you live in these areas to lessen the impact of frost.

1. Choose fig varieties that are more frost hardy such as "Ronde de Bourdeux" and the "Dalmatie" fig.

2. Figs should be hardened off (prepared) before winter comes. This is done by slowly stressing the fig tree so that growth slows and hardens. The application of 2.3.4. fertilizer during the growing season will help to build stronger, more compact growth. Fertilizers high in nitrogen causes rapid but weak growth that is more easily damaged by frost. Growth is also further slowed down by slowly reducing the amount of watering. Hardening off should start from February in cold areas.

3. Incorrect watering can play a major role when it comes to frost damage. It is best to keep the fig plant as dry as possible during the winter season. No watering should be done with the approach of a major cold front. Watering, if necessary, should be done during milder warmer periods.

4. Plant your fig in a protected spot. The best spot will be against a warm, sunny, north facing wall or where it is protected from freezing winds.

5. Give your fig tree protection by providing a thick layer of mulch around the stem and wrapping the rest of the tree with Frost Cover. Frost cover is a poly woven material that lets light and air movement through. The 30 gram type can give up to 3 C of protection per layer. So at least 3 layers are recommended that will give up to 9 C of protection. You can leave the cover on for the rest of the winter.

6. Plant your figs in pots and move them to protected areas during winter. This is a common practice in the colder far Northern Hemisphere countries.

7.Plant your figs in polytunnels. This is a great way to produce larger quantities of figs. You don't need to heat these tunnels as they will give sufficient protection in our area. Unfortunately care should be taken as increased humidity and less light creates certain problems with fig production.

8. Bigger and older, more established fig trees will tolerate more frost. Even if they die back a little they will recover quickly in spring.

9. Even if your tree gets frosted back into the ground, it will still recover and grow back in spring and produce a late crop of figs. Eventually the stems will become thicker and thicker and it will grow taller every year.

10.Keep pruning lightly. Bushy, more compact plants will tolerate more frost.

Fruit Flies


» The common fruit fly, which attacks all fruit, is not nearly as serious a pest as the Mediterranean fig fly but can be a problem during the warmer summer months, especially in areas with high concentrations of other fruit trees like peaches.

» Fruit flies can be kept under control with fruit fly bait stations or by regular spraying with Cypermethrin which also controls the Mediterranean fig fly.

» Unlike the Mediterranean fig fly, the common fruit fly will only attack ripening figs.

Wilting


» Luckily, figs are perfectly adapted to dry and hot conditions. They crop much better if well watered but at least they will recover again. Figs that suffer from drought will typically drop their figs and, in serious cases, their leaves.

» Figs standing in water for long periods of time, especially if grown in clay soils, will develop root rot. The leaves will start to go yellow and start wilting. They often recover if they weren't exposed too long to these conditions.

» If serious damage occurred, it is better to cut back the plant.

Fig Mosaic Virus


» This is more an irritation than a serious disease. Infected plants show leaves with marbled, irregular patches of different shades of green or distorted leaves. It is noticeable only under certain conditions like stress situations or certain times of the year when there is rapid growth. In many cases it dissappears when the leaves mature.

» It normally doesn't affect the general health of the fig or its fig production and is generally not seen as a major concern in agricultural production.

» Some varieties are more resistant than others while some varieties might be affected negatively but this is rarely the case. Varieties like "Deanna" and "White Genoa" seldom show signs of infection, where as "Cape Brown" and "Mission" varieties often show symptoms throughout the growing season.

» Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease as it is a virus. You can either live with it or remove and destroy the plant.

» It is spread from infected plants to healthy plants by small sucking insects called mites or by pruning plants with secateurs used on affected plants and not sterilizing it. This disease occurs worldwide and no continent is spared.

» Branches that show severe signs of infection can be cut back into healthy wood (remember to quick dip your secateurs into Jeyes fluid after every cut is made).

» Only branches that show no signs of the disease should be used for cutting material.

» Some individual plants can be severely infected and never recover and should therefore rather be removed and destroyed.

» I have researched about this disease extensively and some authors claim the disease is present in all fig plants. I have come to the same conclusion and found that most plants in South Africa were infected with the disease no matter where I bought them from.

» In poor growing or stressful conditions, it is much more prevelant.

» There are a few companies that uses micropropagation to side step the virus but exposure somewhere down the line is inevitable.

» It is believed that there are several strains of the virus.

» Fig mosaic virus varies from variety to variety as the following pictures show:


Nematodes (Eelworm)


» These are microscopic small worms that live in the soil. Most of them are beneficial or "good" as they prey on dead plant material or other insects but a few prey on live plant's roots.

» The plants can become stunted, grow very slowly or die back. The plant will have little fine roots, with a lot of dead, stumpy roots and some roots will have knots on them (swollen galls).

» Preventative care is better than the cure, however, it is difficult to control this disease. It is more of a problem in the agricultural sector due to monocultures. It is also more serious and widespread in dryish, sandy to sligthly rocky soils.

» A product called "Basimid" by Efekto was available for the public in controlling this disease but at this stage there is no other product replacement (it is, however, still available in the Agricultural sector but not to the public).

» You can also plant nematode repellant plants like Marigolds in areas with heavy infestations. Heavy mulching and adding a lot of organic matter such as manure or compost also helps to reduce the number of harmful nematodes in the soil.

» If you have eelworm infested soil try not to plant plants prone to this pest for at least 6 years. There is a lot of information available on the internet about which plants you can use.

» There is a few fig varieties that are resistant to eelworm but unfortunately they will only be available in a few years' time.

» If you do have eelworms in your soil, try planting your figs into large pots and purchase good quality bark-based potting soil.

Thrips


This pest occurs on a wide range of ornamental as well as agricultural crops. Most damage on fig trees is done on the figs themselves. The figs will have rough, thickened surfaces and new branches can also be affected. Regular spraying for other pests (fig fly and stem borer) should keep it under control.

Aphids


» Always present on the new growth sucking out the sap.

» Tiny round insects, normally black or green, which multiplies quickly.

» Normally not a problem with fig production.

» Aphids are also easily controlled by various Organic Pesticides like Margaret Robert's Organic Insecticide or Ludwig's Organic Insecticide.

» Good orchard management and hygiene will prevent fig trees from being attacked by these diseases.

Figs Dropping


» The most common cause of small figs dropping off is either caused by severe drought or Mediterranean Fig Fly.

» It is essential to keep figs moist for the first half of the season when new figlets are produced (please read more under Watering). Small figs can drop if the plant was exposed to severe drought.

» In the majority of cases the Mediterranean Fig Fly is to blame. Cut the figs open and inspect the centre. You will see typical brown patches and sometimes also the white larvae.

» Mediterranean fig fly larvae destroys the figs from the inside. The centre of the figs will be brown and from the outside the figs will appear healthy (please read more in Major problems section).

» Another cause can be due to poor pollination but this is seldom a problem in our area as thus far only self pollinating varieties are sold in the Northern provinces. Some fig varieties need the fig wasp for pollination otherwise the figs will fall off. Most of these kinds of figs (called Smyrna types figs) are found mostly in the Western Cape.

» In some cases overwatering and over or under feeding might also cause figs to drop but this is rare.

» Very low temperatures during summer may also cause figs to drop (most fig varieties need hot weather to develop properly). Parisienne (Bourjasotte Noire) is one such example and drops figs very easily.

» It is common during autumn for young figs to drop as temperatures can be too low to fully develop the figs.

Die Back


» Branches that show signs of dying back can be attributed to various reasons. On very old trees this can be due to old age and can be rectified by rejuvenative pruning.

» Frost damage is a major cause of die back. Other causes can include stem borer infestation or poorly drained soils causing rotting of the roots or severe drought stress.

» Nematodes (eelworm), especially in sandy soils, can cause dieback.

» If you have die back, it is best to cut back into healthy (living) tissue and then sealing it with a good tree sealant. If you can determine the cause, try to rectify the problem.

Tasteless figs


» Figs like well drained soil and should not be overwatered.

» Figs trees that do not receive enough sun will produce figs with inferior taste.

» Figs need hot, sunny days to bring out their taste. Figs that ripen during rainy spells will taste inferior to ones that ripen during dry, hot spells.

» Figs grown in cooler climates will normally taste inferior to ones grown in warmer climates.

» Overwatering or wet weather during the ripening stage can cause the fruits to take up too much water and then taste watery. Remember the fruit of figs can take up water directly through their skin.

» Fertilizers, especially those with too much Nitrogen, will also affect the taste negatively.

» There are many varieties of figs with many different tastes so make sure you choose one that suits your taste.

» Figs taste at their best when they are fully ripe. Remember, figs do not ripen further once they have been picked.

Slow Growth


» I often get this complaint. The most common cause of slow growth is neglect. Regular watering and feeding of especially young trees is important. I put the emphasis on REGULARLY - not now and then when you remember. If a plant is exposed to stress conditions like drought, it is easily set back a month before it will recover again. Only watering will also not help:plants need food like you and me to grow! (see Feeding).

» Nematodes (eelworm) can also cause this but that is unlikely in our area. It will be a good thing to inspect the roots though.

» Fig mosaic virus can also cause some varieties to grow slower but this is rare (some individual plants of the same variety can also be negatively affected).

» Figs grow much slower in poorly drained and waterlogged soils. Well drained soil is crucial!

» Figs need warm,sunny conditions to grow at their best. Cool, rainy summers will cause slower growth.

» It is important to note that some varieties of figs grow faster than others. Some varieties can grow into big trees and others only into small shrubs. Bigger varieties will normally grow faster. Varieties like "Dalmatie" and "Cape Brown" grow very slow while "Deanna" and "Parisienne" grow fast.

» Figs in pots will grow slower than their counterparts in the soil.

» Figs in pots can become rootbound and cause stunted growth. Annual root pruning or re-potting into a bigger container is recommended.

» Sometimes trees need to establish themselves properly for the first few years before rapid growth can start.

Remember that old saying:


Red Spider Mite


(various species)

» These are very small spider-like insects that suck out sap from the leaves and cause small white dots on the surface of the leaves. Sometimes small webs can also be seen.

» This pest is normally only a problem in tunnels, under shade nets,patios and stoeps,areas with poor air circulation or if plants are planted very close to each other.

» Red spider infestations are at their worst during very hot, dry weather conditions.

» There are various products available for the control of the pest.

» It is important to get rid of this pest as soon as possible as it can spread the Fig Mosaic Virus to other figs.

African Bollworm


(Helicoverpa armigera)

» Altough not a common or serious pest on figs it can attack especially soft growing tips and leaves of fig trees during summer time.

» Adult moths lay their eggs during night time on the tree. They quickly hatch and small larvae start to devour growing tips and leaves of the fig tree.

» The larvae are very variable in size and colour but all have a horizontal stripe on their side.

» The pest is easily controlled by spraying with Margaret Robert's Organic Insecticide or Ludwig's Organic Catapillar Control

» Delegate 250 WG is registered for Agricultural control of this pest.

african bollworm

Scale


» Small flat, grey,brown or black armoured insects present on the younger bark, sucking out sap from the tree.

» Normally not serious pests when it comes to figs.

» Scale is easily and safely treated by spraying with Oleum which is environmentally friendly.

Yellow Brown Leaves


This is always a very tricky problem to resolve as many factors can cause leaves to colour yellow or turn brown.

» Browning of leaves is normally caused by the following:

· severe drought coupled with severe heat and sun.
· overwatering in some cases.
· fig rust normally on the underside of the leaves.
· overfeeding or fertilizer burn (normally edges turn black then brown).
· overuse of chemicals causing burn.
· frost damage (turns black then brown).

»Yellowing of leaves is normally caused by:

· poorly drained soil or overwatering.
· severe drought.
· plants in need of feeding.
· plants not receiving enough sunlight (often leaves on the lowest branches fall off first).
· it is normal for older, lower leaves to yellow and fall off especially during late summer entering autumn.
· presence of nematodes on the roots.
· presence of fig borer inside the stems.
· presence of the red spider mytes on leaves.