The optimum one-year-old shoot length to optimize yield and fruit size of three fig (Ficus carica L.) cultivars
The European fig cultivars Bourjasotte Noire, Col de Damme Noire, and Noire de Caromb were recently introduced to the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Producers struggle to implement effective commercial practices that will optimize yield of quality fruit. A phenological study was conducted to establish the optimum 1-year-old shoot length to maximize yield. The number of fruit, budbreak, and shoot growth on 1- year-old shoots comprising four length categories ('Bourjasotte Noire': 10 to 15, 25 to 40, 50 to 65, and 75+ cm; 'Col de Damme Noire' and 'Noire de Caromb': 10 to 20, 30 to 50, 60 to 80, and 100+ cm) were evaluated. In 'Bourjasotte Noire', all four categories seem to be suited for reproduction in the current season and also provide sufficient new shoot growth to ensure a fair yield the next season. In 'Col de Damme Noire', category four seems to be the best 1-year-old shoot length for reproduction both in terms of fruit number and fruit size. However, yield on these shoots may not be optimal the next season, because current-season shoots are too short. It seems that this cultivar will require pruning to stimulate strong new shoot growth that will ensure regular, high yields. In 'Noire de Caromb', category one shoots are very productive relative to their length. Categories two and three were also relatively productive, whereas category four was less productive but developed a large number of current-season shoots similar in length to category one that should be productive the next season. These results will allow us to develop pruning strategies to ensure an optimal balance between current-season yield and the development of new fruiting wood to ensure regular, high yields. It also suggests that the three cultivars studied will require differential application of horticultural practices to attain regular, high yields of large fruit.