OT: Ficus

Has anyone tried breeding the ficus family (figs)? I’m still breeding roses because Florida has a need for some truly well adapted ones, but breeding for food production keeps calling me. Rugosas were tempting to work with, but they struggle here… Figs handle most poor soils very well, and are very productive, tasty, and good for you. Figs have historically been one of the most important fruits for mankind, but very little breeding work has been done with them. A few new varieties came from California in 1970’s and a few from LSU in the 80’s. Most fig varieties are ancient.

The USDA gives free cuttings (extremely easy to start) to anyone willing to work with them, if you tell the USDA of your results.

Ficus sexual genetics is different from roses. Different, but interesting. There are enough online articles to explain how they reproduce.

Ficus carica is usually a zone 8-11 plant, so they need better cold tolerance. They also need better rootknot nematode and leaf rust resistance. Fresh fruit need to keep longer for shipping.

If you are looking for a food based side project, figs seem to have good potential. I’m growing out several cuttings now and hope to start breeding them next summer.

I’m tempted,but fig biology a bit too weird for me. I have an italian couple nearby, with some unique and delicious ones. She does not cover them, and they thrive…

What part of the world do you live in Sal? There are a few varieties that survive in the NY, PA areas. Fig biology sounds weird, but basically, you just need persistent male figs for pollen, which the USDA has three of, and insert pollen into common figs with a toothpick or knife point.

There is a lot of diversity in Ficus carica or related.

Including mountain forms ( edible!) that have very striking very very dissected foliage and that do bear a lot of cold.

A friend of mine collected seeds and grew seedlings.

Thank you for the information Pierre. I’ll check around to see if something similar can be found in the states. Ficus is a large family, most of which is diploid at 2n 26. I’ve ordered F.sycamorus, F.racemosa, and also F. palmata-F.carica and F.pumila-F.carica hybrids in the hopes of adding their gene pools and various good traits to F.carica. It should keep me busy for a few years, lol.

We have a man that grows them out of doors here in NW Indiana (US Zone 5). Last winter was brutal, but they did come back from the roots, are now about five feet tall, and he does have some figs. I wonder if there some very hardy species that could be introduced into the “mix.”