13 Apr Fig Pruning
Except in Zones 7 and 8, it is best to prune figs to a low-growing bush form with a single trunk base of 8″ to 12″ from the ground. To produce a bush, cut back aggressively for the first several years. This will make harvesting fruit and wrapping for winter protection easier as the fig matures.
Fruit bearing figs have the potential to bear two separate crops each year. The first is produced on the previous seasons’ growth and begins to develop before dormancy. This crop is known as the breba crop. This crop, if fruitful and productive, is lighter that the late summer crop which is produced on the current seasons’ growth. Be mindful of this as you prune. Prune by approximately one-half, which will encourage new shoots to develop 8″ to 12″ above the base or ground level.
During winter dormancy the first year, choose a few adequately spaced shoots (three or many as eight) which will serve as leaders and remove all others. These leaders will become large, several inches in diameter, so choose those that will not become overcrowded. Fruit is borne primarily on the current season’s growth.
The second year, after the danger of frost has passed in spring, prune for fruit production. Fruit is borne on the current season’s growth. Cut back to a bud or branch that faces toward the outside or the tree or shrub. Do not prune to stubs, a practice which could lead to decay. Make a habit of using sharp pruning tools. Remove all dead wood, broken branches or branches that cross each other or rub against one another. Cut out all suckers unless one or more of the leaders needs to be replaced.