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Worried About my Fig after that snow storm...

 
pollinator
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Permies, help help! I’m a native born Texan and have NO experience with winter storms like this one you probably have heard of in the news (if you’re American)

I didn’t get to protecting my established fig tree before the storm blew in. I’m new to gardening and really just had no idea how to do it lol.

Is there anything I need to know to help my Celeste fig survive once the snow melts?

Or is it a goner? We have had below freezing since Saturday, going as low as 3 degrees on Monday.

In a non-apocalyptic year I’m zone 8b.
Celeste fig planted in the ground. I have no idea how many years old. Maybe around 5?
 
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Hi Rebecca, the good news is that the snow may be protecting your fig from the coldest temps. Not much else you can do for it right now, but when the snow is gone check for damage and prune back any broken branches. Cross fingers and wait for new growth in the spring, and prune out any wood that doesn't show signs of life.

We almost never get snow here, but had three days of it nearly ten years ago (in late winter just like you guys) and our fig tree didn't mind a bit. But it didn't get nearly as cold as what you're dealing with in Texas, so this isn't much of a data point.
 
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Hi, I'm not a gardner but I would  try calling my university extension service. If you could put something up for a wind break it will keep the wind chill factor to a minimum.  We wrap our smaller trees in burlap. It also helps to keep them from drying out from wind and son as they currently can not get water.

Hope things work out for you.
 
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I think your fig may be OK.  It will probably be killed to the ground, or close to it, but if it is pretty well established then it should send up some new shoots.  I have a Celeste fig as well.  Several years ago, when it was only in the ground 2 or 3 years, we had a few days in the single digits, although I don't think we got below 7.  I thought the fig was a goner, too, but come spring it bounced back pretty quickly.  Incidentally, I have a Meyer lemon in a pot that I never did much to protect except put it against a south wall.  I thought it was really dead after that, but as they say it was only mostly dead.  I think it took a year for it to send out a tentative new leaf.  I almost gave up. The rootstock kept sending up shoots, but it was a long while before a real Meyer leaf popped up above the graft.  Plants are amazing!  But, I put the lemon in an enclosed porch for winter now :)

Anyway, as others are saying, protect it now if you can, but I don't know that there is much to do but wait and see.  I hope things get better (and warmer) in Texas soon!
 
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Another vote that it might be okay. If it's going to keep getting cold and wind maybe see if you can wrap/shield it somehow.
I don't know about varieties of figs, but one of the places I lived in NJ that got loads of snow was full of Italian-Americans with lots of figs in their yards that always grew like gangbusters. They pruned them hard, and they always came back bushy and taller than a 6-foot fence.


@Mark- I have a kumquat that after a good few years of producing got drilled by some sort of beetle and started dying, I pruned it down to about a foot (maybe a few inches above the graft) and it came back like crazy!! What a relief when they decide to come back!
 
pollinator
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i’d go so far as to say that it will be okay. figs are tough. there may be some freeze damage up top, but it’ll come back, as long as it didn’t get flooded or anything like that. your soil isn’t frozen deep.
 
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The wood may well die, but the roots have a lot of life in them. Mine died back every winter for the first several years. When the new wood comes  in, clear out the dead stuff and you should be good.
 
pollinator
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It is pretty common for folks in the fig world, who are from zones 6 and 7, to have their trees die back to the ground often. They almost always bounce right back... especially if established and mulched. As stated already, the snow is likely helping out.

The folks up North just compensate by planting varieties that are early season varieties with short hang-times.... that way the will still get a crop before frost every year.


Other folks just wrap the trunk in blankets, build a cage around it, then fill it with leaves or straw. While others bend their trees over and bury them for Winter.

Fig trees are darn tough!

My only suggestion is, if yours dies back, be aggressive with pinching off the unwanted new growth as it first emerges. Select only a couple of new trunks at the most so it does not shade itself out. Also, stop watering and fertilizing before mid-Summer so that the growth rate will slow.... and lignification will increase. Getting the wood to harden off and build bark is of utmost importance for Winter survival.

 
Rebecca Blake
pollinator
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Thank you everyone for the advice and the positive words. I’m glad it sounds like the tree will be fine. I’m actually thinking that I want the current limbs to be dead so it can regrow and I can reshape it... I have been struggling with how to prune this thing since it was just left alone to grow wild for pretty much its whole life up until this year.
But at the same time, I was really looking forward to greater fruit production this year since it has been getting some TLC finally since last summer.

Regardless, Hearing about the resilience of the tree will help me be more confident in my pruning next time around. I was too nervous to prune too much when I did it for the first time a few weeks ago :)

Marty Mitchell wrote: Also, stop watering and fertilizing before mid-Summer so that the growth rate will slow.... and lignification will increase. Getting the wood to harden off and build bark is of utmost importance for Winter survival.



That’s the exact opposite of what I normally have to do, during our summers the rain goes away and it often will be 100F in mid-summer. The last time we had a winter storm like this affect so much of Texas was in the 1880s I believe so I’m not too worried about protecting it from future storms. Just want to help it come back from this one! Still good to know, thank you! Perhaps I can use that strategy on some citrus trees...?
 
Marty Mitchell
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Rebecca Blake wrote: Still good to know, thank you! Perhaps I can use that strategy on some citrus trees...?




Welcome!

Yes. I plan to do the same thing with my Citrus trees. I just got a couple of more cold-hardy types. Types that are good down to 12F once they mature. (temporary dips to single digits allegedly)


Anyways, I just potted them up to large 5gal pots. I will let them get some thickness in their trunks and bark. Then after the 3rd year I will be putting them in-ground up agains the South side of the house in a protected spot. I will do that backing off of water and fert thing. Protect heavily during Winter for the first few years, then after 3 to 5 years I will back off all forms of protection. It should survive just fine.

However, I am a chicken. If I see a blast coming my way like what you just got, I shall be throwing a moving blanket on top and mulching deep around the base (or putting square bales around it).

It will be cool to have some in-ground Oranges up here in NC. There are some folks all the way up in DC that have pulled it off actually.
 
Marty Mitchell
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Oh, and one more thing.

The citrus I just got is grafted onto Trifoliate rootstock. Which goes dormant MUCH earlier in the season. Slowing down the nutrients and hydrology of the plant much sooner. Increasing lignification rate and thus... cold tolerance by about 8F. Possibly more.

Tucking the tree up out of the wind helps tremendously. Placing it on the South side of the house helps drastically more.

 
gardener & hugelmaster
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Ouch. I knew TX weather was bad this week but had no idea how bad until reading the news earlier tonight. Don't panic though. Figs are fairly sturdy. If it's a 5 year old tree it's fairly well established. It will probably drop limbs & look dead after winter but don't give up hope. Make sure it gets plenty of water this spring. My figs survived many bad Centex winters with no special preparation or care. Never saw 5 inches of snow there though. Floods, fires, hurricanes, & hail bigger than golf balls many times. Never 5 inches of snow in one winter let alone one week or one day. Eeek. Y'all stay warm!!!



 
Rebecca Blake
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Mike Barkley wrote: Y'all stay warm!!!



Done. Texas seems to be getting back to her usual self, we won’t have below freezing anymore after tonight. (Although it gets close Monday) Looking forward to the high of 60 tomorrow.

High of 45 today felt MARVELOUS after all of that freezing weather. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself for thinking the 40s are so cold all those other times!

Glad to hear my fig should be fine, thank you. The last winter storm like this I think I heard was in the 1880s... so hopefully I can continue with my food forest plans without having to plan for this again!
 
Marty Mitchell
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Rebecca Blake wrote: The last winter storm like this I think I heard was in the 1880s... so hopefully I can continue with my food forest plans without having to plan for this again!




I would spend a little time to read up on the "Grand Solar Minimum" we are currently starting to slip into. We should be in the depths of it by 2030 to 2050.

Solar minimum/maximum cycles happen every 11 years. Grand Solar Minimum/Maximum happen every 300 years.


Each "Grand" cycle causes the jet stream to dip like it just did. Expect to see it from time to time. Also, expect more volcanic eruptions, Earth quakes, mold/mildew issues, slightly shorter growing seasons, etc.

That being said there will be up and down times as the 11 year cycles still happen. It is just that their high peaks will be lower and the cold troughs will be lower. The last time this weather happened the Potomac river froze so George Washing was able to drag cannons across it and surprise the British. I hope it does not get that cold. However, it will be a REALLY good time to have an established food forest. As crop losses will happen and food prices will soar.
 
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Marty Mitchell wrote:
I would spend a little time to read up on the "Grand Solar Minimum" we are currently starting to slip into. We should be in the depths of it by 2030 to 2050.



There's a lot written about this and not everybody has the time or interest to dive into all of it, but this NASA page indicates that there's less certainty than we might like in the modeling that predicts the next one:

Anomalous periods like a Grand Solar Minimum show that magnetic activity and energy output from the Sun can vary over decades, although the space-based observations of the last 35 years have seen little change from one cycle to the next in terms of total irradiance. Solar Cycle 24, which began in December 2008 and is likely to end in 2020, was smaller in magnitude than the previous two cycles.

On occasion, researchers have predicted that coming solar cycles may also exhibit extended periods of minimal activity. The models for such predictions, however, are still not as robust as models for our weather and are not considered conclusive.

 
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