THE PUGET SOUND REGIONAL FIG VARIETY TEST
The need for a Fig variety test in the Puget Sound Region is obvious. Despite over 100 years of Fig growning in the region, including a commercial fig orchard on Vashon Island in the early 1900’s, there is no record of varietal performance or clear agreement on which varieties are best suited to our conditions. Our only written records are from experience in California and the Willamette Valley of Oregon, both of which are significantly different climates. The one thing we do know from experience is that very few varieties will produce and ripen more than the first (Breba) crop in this region when grown outdoors.
In 1999 and 2000, the first Fig trees were distributed including “Gillette”, “Desert King”, “Lattarula”, and two local varieties “Vashon Violet” and “Tilbury’s Brown Turkey” to plant and evaluate during the test. The varieties “Negronne” and “Peter’s Honey Fig” were added in the spring of 2001. There are now participants in Duvall, Sequim, Shelton, San Juan Island, Sedro Woolley, and Bonney Lake Washington with plans to add testers in other locations where the climate is more severe. While several testers got a Breba or two in 2001, first results occurred in 2003.
FIG TEST PROGRESS
See my alternate website KIWIFRUITSALAD2 for the 2009 Fig Test Report.
As of October 2008, I am happy to report some of the following results thus far:
To date the most productive variety is “Desert King” which comes as no surprise as it is known to be the best producer of Breba crop figs of any variety (per Ira Condit, 1955 Hilgardia where it is known as “King”). Second most productive is the Caprifig “Gillette” which is perhaps the most reliable variety around Puget Sound in that when mature, it does not miss a year of production. Most people however tend to pick “Gillette” before fully ripe and find it dry with little flavor at that stage. “Vashon Violet” (aka “Brunswick”) is perhaps the richest flavored and ranks tops or very high in taste tests. Although it doesn’t produce a lot of Breba crop figs, their size and flavor make up for any lack of quantity. “Tilbury’s Turkey” (actual variety unknown) is producing well for some of the testers and ranks high in taste tests. “Negronne” is doing OK but still not enough production to make a judgement. Both “Peter’s Honey” and “Petit Negri” appear to be losers and probably should not be grown in the Puget Sound Region! The patented fig “Violetta” was added in 2007 at some test sites but hasn’t produced any results yet.