FIG (Ficus Carica) is one of the most ancient fruits known to mankind which finds its mention in the Bible. It is believed that there was a fig tree in the Garden of Eden and the leaves of this tree provided the first clothing. It is reported to be under cultivation from 3000-2000 BC in the eastern Mediterranean region.
The fig fruit is unique. Unlike most 'fruit' in which the structure is matured ovary tissue, the fig's edible structure is actually a stem tissue. The fig fruit is an inverted flower with both male and female flower parts enclosed in stem tissue. This structure is known botanically as a "SYCONIUM". At maturity the interior of the fig contains only the remains of these flower structure, including the small gritty structures commonly called 'seed', which in fact is nothing but the unfertilised ovaries that failed to develop. They impart resin like flavour associated with fig.
Fruits are consumed fresh or dried. Fresh Figs are delicious and nutritious which is rich in calorie, protein, calcium and iron. Fig has nutritive index of 11, as against 9 for apple and 6 for raisin. The bulk of the fruit (about 80%) is consumed as dried fruits. The fruit is also credited with laxative and medicinal properties like its application in boils and other skin infection.
Types of Fig
Figs have been grouped into four types depending on sex of the flower and the method of pollination. These are
1) Common Fig or edible Fig- Individual flowers are Long styled pistillate and fruits develop parthenocarpically. Popular cultivers includes - Poona, Conardia, Mission Kadota, Brown Turkey.
2) SMYRNA - Fruit develops only on Pollination by male flowers of caprifig through the Fig wasp. Most important variety is 'calimyrna'.
3) CAPARIFIG or Wild Fig - Short styled Pistillate flowers and functional staminate flowers caprifig are not edible but grown because they harbour Fig wasp (Blastophaga psenes), which is necessary for pollination and setting fruits.
4) SAN-PEDRO-FIG- It is an intermediate type where the first crop (known as BREBA) is Pathenocarpic while the 2nd crop (main) require pollination like SMYRNA type.
Area of Cultivation
Fig is moderately important world crop with an estimated annual production of one million tons of fruit of which about 30% is produced by Turkey. The other major producer are Egypt, Morocco, Greece, California, Italy, Algeria, Syria and Tunisia.
In India Fig is considered to be a minor fruit crop and the commercial cultivation of common (edible) fig is mostly confined to Western Parts of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow and Saharanpur) Karnataka (Bellary, Chitradurga and Srirangapatna) and Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore). In Maharashtra the total area under Fig cultivation is reported to be 883 ha. spread over to Pune (467 ha), Latur (142 ha), Jalna (60 ha), Osmanabad (38 ha) and the remaining area scattered in other districts.
Fig is one of the most salt and drought tolerant crops. It can tolerate a fairly high level of sulphate or chloride salt. Medium to heavy, calcareous, well drained deep (about 1M) soil having PH of 7-8 is ideally suitable for Fig cultivation.
Fig tree being a deciduous and sub tropical, favours areas having arid or semi-arid environment, high summer temperature, plenty of sunshine and moderate water. Although the plants can survive temperature is high 450C, the fruit quality deteriorates beyond 390C. Though the mature tree can withstand low temperature upto 40C , it makes good growth when the temperature is above 15 - 210C . The size, shape, colour of the skin and pulp quality are markedly affected by climate. But quality figs are produced in the region with dry climate especially at the time of fruit development and maturity. High humidity coupled with low temperature usually results in fruit splitting and low fruit quality.
There are about 20 popular varieties of fig that are being grown in different parts of the World. Some famous varieties of common Fig grown in different countries are 'White Adriatic' 'Black Mission', Kodota and 'Conadira' in Califormia, Kalamon in Greece, Sultani inEgypt. The "Smyrna types' includes popular Turkish cultivar known as 'Saricop' in Turkey and 'Calimyrna' in United States. In India "POONA FIG" is the most popular cultivar grown for consumption as fresh fruit. Most of the Fig grown in Mangalore, Bellary, Coimbatore, Daulatabad, Ganjam, Lucknow and Saharanpur resembles in plant and fruit morphology to that of Poona Fig. Recently a variety "Dinkar", an improvement over Daulatabad variety for yield and fruit quality is gaining commercial importance. Some hybrids from California have reportedly performed better over Poona Fig in Mangalore Condition.
Planting material - 25 cm cuttings having 3-6 nods from the wood of previous season are usually used as planting material.
SPACING - 5 M x 5 M i.e. 160 plant per acre
PIT SIZE - 0.6 m3
. SYSTEM OF PLANTING - Square
. PLANTING SEASON - June to September
. MANURES AND FERTILIZER
The year-wise requirement of Manures and Fertilizer is as under:
FIG plant can sustain heat and drought. However, for commercial production timely irrigation is necessary. Flood irrigation at an interval of 10-12 days during summer is ideal. However, if drip irrigation is adopted 15-20 litres of water/day /plant may be supplied.
TRAINING AND PRUNING
Fig trees are trained initially to a single stem and allowed to grow about 1 meter and then it is topped. Light Pruning is practised in Poona Fig after the monsoon is over i.e. in October.
The major pests are stem-boring beetles, leaf defoliators and fig flies. The fig fly may be controlled by DEMECRON (0.05% spray). The stem borrer is controlled with the application of THYMATE GRANULES with Petrol or Kerosene. Important disease of Fig is 'Rust which is caused by Cerotolium fici. It can be controlled by dusting with sulphur or spraying with BLITOX, or M -45 and Z-78.
To promote proper shoot growth and also against fruit drop growth regulators like Gibrallie Acid (GA) or RMAX @ 30 ml/litre of water is used.
HARVESTING AND YIELD
Though the bearing of the fruit starts from the 2nd year, fruits are harvested from the 3rd year onwards. The yield increases with increase of the canopy size of the tree and stabilises on 8th year. The economic life of the plant may be considered 35 years. the harvesting season in Pune starts in February /March and is over by May/June. The fruits are harvested once in 2-3 days manually. The average yield per tree may be assumed as under:
Age of the plant (years) Yield/tree (kg)
8 onwards 18