Yes Figs Grow Around Fort Smith!


Work closely with the River Valley Master Gardeners on a five-to-ten year Fig growing trial to determine what varieties are suitable for our climate gardening zone. We are seeking information on local Fig trees which have survived multiple years either with or without winter protection.

Document and show as many growing Fig trees in our area as possible so people will know what varieties to choose from when they search about Figs and possibly want to grow them, in and around Fort Smith.

Most people think about California or perhaps farther South and into Florida when growing Figs comes to mind but in truth, we can grow just about any variety of Fig as can be grown anywhere, depending on how much effort we want to put into it, to ensure survival of the tree(s).

There are many varieties of Fig, some considered more "cold hardy" than others and so, more suitable to growing here if we simply want to plant them out in the yard as we might any other fruit tree suitable for our climate, while others will require protection of some sort during our cold winters that will kill most fig varieties.

Ok Charlie, what Fig varieties can I grow in and around Fort Smith? If it is listed in the right column blog archive below, then it is a good variety choice. More will be continually added as they are found locally or resulting from the Learning Fields at Chaffee Crossing Fig Trial.

We can grow even the pickiest of Fig if we want to have them in containers we can move into a garage or other suitable enclosure during the winter to protect them from killing temperatures and others may suffice in a greenhouse but these are not really the ones we want to focus on in this blog. Most people simply want to plant a tree and not go to a whole lot of effort.

It is advised that any Fig variety grown here be given some protection during Winter while young and until they are well established with woody bark. Even then there are no guarantees they will survive. Our purpose here is to help you decide which are the best choices according to known survivors in our area.

Variety topics are always in the Blog Archive.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Brunswick Fig Success in Fort Smith!

The tree in our blog title was spotted while driving by a Fort Smith residence.  I met with the owner, obtained permission to get these photo's and with the help on online fig experts, have been able to determine it as being a Brunswick fig, also known as Magnolia and large White Turkey.  The tree is fifteen years old and has never been winter protected and never suffered any significant die back.

A couple of figs given me to try.  This is now known as the Alice Cooper Brunswick, previously thought to be a "Turkey fig".

View from the North.  This "bush form" is approx. 8ft tall x 15ft across and is made up of several main trunks that grew from limbs that were thrown out in a pile and rooted on their own some 15 years ago.  It is out in the open with no protection.

View from the South side.  Figs everywhere!  Brunswick is noted as a type that tends to split during the ripening phase if there is too much rain so it is not desirable in some parts of the country.  Hardly ever is it too wet in Arkansas during August!

Brunswick has a small eye compared to some other fig varieties but still considered "open".  

Brunswick also noted for it's hollow core.  Small ants may enter the eye and be found inside. 

This is a sweet fig worth having for our area in my opinion.


8/14/15 Update

Three new Brunswick Fig trees spotted today in Fort Smith.  They have been there for many years but not exactly known how long.  They were severely pruned last Winter and are slow to ripen figs this year.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Unknown Lake Spur Fig

This Unknown Fig was found South of Mansfield in the Lake Spur community.  Many cuttings were taken in the Fall of 2014 and distributed to fig growers all over the country in attempts for them to grow and identify the variety since circumstances beyond my control dictated that there was no ripe fig from which to identify!  Currently it is known as Unknown Lake Spur.

Unknown Lake Spur mother tree stood approx 12ft tall and as wide as a bush form with only a wooden fence on its East side.  The previous owner did not know the variety and sold the property. He reported that it would die back some in a hard winter but come back strong and fruit. I was fortunate to find this fig and obtain cuttings with permission.  It was reported the current owner burned the mother tree but I saw it growing back just a few days ago.  I have several of this variety growing in my own yard now and am looking forward to knowing the variety. 

A couple of video's have been posted on the ULS!

A random experiment photo featuring Unk Lake Spur

Evidence in a fig scandal...

Celeste Fig is a Southern Tradition!

If there is one fig tree that commonly dominates the South, it is probably the Celeste variety and/or variations of it.  Celeste figs are smaller than most but sweet and good if picked when ripe.  It is fairly cold hardy and survives even our hardest winters of late with minimal die-back, as far as I have seen and know of so far.  Celeste is said to be very easy to grow and a good start for beginners.

Here's a Celeste Fig tree I was introduced to last year, growing on the South side of a home in Fort Smith.  It stands approx 10ft tall and as wide (alive) and shows the old top extending several more feet that was winter killed.  Figs from this tree are small and taste like a melon/berry.    

Another Celeste,  growing on the Southeast corner/side of a rock dwelling in Fort Smith.  Fruits from this tree are also small but plentiful and tasty.  

Hardy Chicago Fig a Winner for Fort Smith Area

Spotted three more fig trees today, perhaps to be added here at some point.  The focus of this post is the Fig variety known as Hardy Chicago.  I'm not quite sure how cold hardy this variety is but it has been told to me, it would survive a -70 cold winter and come back.

Leading this variety topic, a massive, 15 years old Hardy Chicago Fig tree, owned by the friendly folks at The Squash Blossom in Dora.  Here's John, dwarfed by the giant fig tree!

This tree has not been specifically winter protected, meaning not wrapped or ever covered but is planted in a somewhat protective location.  A home wall to the West and an outdoor shed mostly blocking winds from the North.  Look how well this tree has done in partial sunlight!  

John picked a sample for me!  

Trying not to shake with anticipation.  Hardy Chicago tops my previous fig tasting experience.  I just know it's going to be delicious...

This is what hooked me on figs, without ever even having tasted one.

Yeah, it was as good as it looks!  You just have to have a ripe fig to understand.

Estimating this tree is 16-18 ft tall and about 12 ft wide.  

It's a gorgeous specimen.  A single main trunk of 4-5 inches diameter with three main branches that John trims back to periodically.  If you go sweet talk him just right, he  might set you up with a cutting.  :)