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Information @ a Glance

Introduction

  • The cultivated fig, Ficus carica L., is a member of the Moraceae (mulberry family).

  • The fig is native to western Asia, and has been cultivated for thousands of years in Mediterranean countries of Europe and North Africa.

  • Figs were introduced to England and Mexico in the 1500's, then the Eastern US in 1669, and to California in 1881.

  • Common figs were cultivated successfully throughout the Gulf states and California, but the Smyrna fig did not fruit until it was realized that a tiny wasp was needed for pollination, which was not native to California.

Growth and Cultivation

  • A large shrub or small, spreading tree with handsome, large, 3-5 lobed leaves, up to 25cm long and 15cm wide.

  • The fig can grow up to 10m height. The leaves are hairy. The edible fruits are green or violet to brown.

  • The "Common Fig" is well growing against a warm sunny wall, where the fruits will be best ripen.

  • Figs are easily propagated by hardwood cuttings.

  • Trees are very sensitive to frost when actively growing, but can withstand 10F when dormant.

Uses

  • Processed figs are made into pies, pudding, cakes, other bakery products, jams, jellies and preserves.

  • Fig paste is a mixture of figs, wheat and corn flour, whey, syrup, oils, and other ingredients, used in "Fig Newtons".

  • The nutritional value of fresh figs is comparable to that of many other fruits. They are high in calcium. Dried figs, with only 20% water are nutritious relative to other fresh fruits

Market

  • The fruit usually is consumed fresh locally or in dried, canned, and preserved form. Dried figs and those unfit for human consumption, can be used as animal fodder.

  • Several countries import dried figs or the paste. The main exporters of dried figs and paste are Turkey and the United States.

  • Of California's production, 85% is marketed as dried figs, 12% as canned figs and fig juice, and 3% as fresh fruit.

  • The economic importance of fig production is likely to continue into the future. In the world market, there is an increasing demand for fresh figs and a stable demand for dried figs.

  • The most important trade aspects of this species are the short commercial life of the fresh fruits, and for the dried fruits, the market competition of Turkish production, where production costs are lower than for other countries (Europe).

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