For Newbies: Fig Disease and Dieback Pruning

February 2, 2021 • All Things Figs, Uncategorized • Views: 262

Here in Pacific Northwest (PNW) raining season started in September and we are known as rainy city. Most disease is caused by wet climate from now until Spring. It is an ideal environment for diseases to thrive. I usually prune my trees for shape, disease, or dieback during Winter. From January to End of February for shaping. For disease or dieback anytime when I see it, usually December to April. It can be minor pruning if you catch it in time. You don’t want to delay and allow the disease to progress. The longer you let it overwinter the more you will end up removing it from the tree. This could also lead to slowly decline in the health of the tree and even death.

I’m not technical with all the disease names but canker is when it’s orange in color. You would need to disinfect your pruning tools before and after. You need to remove a couple of nodes below the infected area until you find a healthy cross-section of the branch or trunk. And when removing branches you might have to prune for the shape to balance the tree. The disease or dieback branch must be disregarded. It should never be shared. It is trash material it is not considered cuttings. Fig cutting material must be healthy and good size.

Dieback is seen with wilting black color and soft to touch. This 2020 Winter is mild compared to our many other winters. I have been living here in Washington for more than thirty years. We didn’t have any snow this year. Mild dieback from my plants, but we are not done yet. If I’m busy or forgetful I usually end up doing more pruning in March or April. It is unavoidable, I prefer treating disease when I see it, rather than to allow it to make the tree suffer.

I made a video about removing any unripe figs from branches. They will cause fungus and canker if you let them overwinter. Depends where the fruit is that may mean removing a lot of branches due to disease. This can be avoided by preventative care and rake all fallen leaves.

I might not always carry my phone out to the garden when I prune off a diseased plant. When there is a disease it must be pruned off. Since I’m not the only one caring for our plants, I might not notice and someone might help prune the tree. I’ll try to remember to post a new photo of the tree after it’s been fixed! It will be a healthier plant in Spring.

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