Fig Farming

Uploaded on : March 2019


Fig is an Asian species of flowering plant belonging to the mulberry family. It is generally termed as Ficus Carica. This plant is native to the Middle East and Western Asia. This plant is cultivated or grown throughout the world either as an ornamental plant or as a fruit bearing plant. This plant is deciduous in nature and has fragrant leaves. This plant has now become naturalized in scattered locations of Asia and North America. The largest producers of fig in the world are Spain, Turkey, Egypt and Algeria accounting for almost 58% of total production. The total production of raw (fresh) fig in the world accounts for more than 1.05 million tonnes. In India fig farming is mostly done in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The total area under fig cultivation is around 5600 hectares of land with a production of about 13,802 thousand tonnes, i.e. about 12.32 tonnes per hectare.


Varieties or Cultivars of Fig Fruit


There are more than 600 named cultivars of fig and most commercial production depends on only few cultivars. Some important commercial cultivars are Calimyrna (sarilop), Adriatic, Mission, Brown Turkey, Desert King, Celeste and Kadota. In India, we find Poona and Dinkar having commercial importance. Figs with economic value are grouped into Smyrna types and are especially found in Iran. These varieties are named as Seyah, sabz, payves, matti, shah anjeer and kashki.

One variety of fig named as San Pedro fig produces two crops in every season and it is believed that the fruit set in the first season happens normally, but the fruit set in the second season happens through pollination by a specific wasp. The desert king variety belongs to this group.


Plant and Its Properties


Root system – the root system of the fig tree is fibrous and spreads wider (approx. 3 times that of its canopy). The roots are shallow and do not have a taproot. The roots can tolerate poor soil conditions and moderate salinity levels. The roots are sensitive to nematodes especially when cultivated in light sandy soils.

Shoot and leaf systems – fig trees can either be open and drooping or upright and compact. The growth habitat largely depends on the type of cultivar. The trees are small to moderate in size and attain a height of 6 to 8 m. The leaves of the tree are bright green in color, large and either single or alternately arranged. The apical meristem develops into a lateral outgrowth during the spring and is known by observing the terminal bud. The base of the bud contains one vegetative and two primordia inflorescences.

Latex cells – the tree has cells, which secrete latex i.e. a milky substance or cytoplasmic fluid obtained from the lactiferous tissues. These fluids normally contain organelles of the plant cells, such as nucleus, mitochondria, ribosomes and Golgi.

Fruits – the fruit of this plant is a multiple fruit called as syconium, consisting of a fleshy receptacle with a narrow aperture at the tip. The fruits are tiny (about the size of a lemon).


Soil and Climatic Requirements for Fig Fruit Cultivation


The best type of soil required for growing fig trees is deep, non-alkaline clayey loam soil. Soil with well- draining property and good water holding capacity are ideal for the cultivation of fig, especially alluvial clay loam or medium black soils. The pH level of soil should be around 5.5-8 and approximate depth of the soil should be around 1 m.

This fig tree is a subtropical tree that can tolerate a lower temperature range of 9.5 to 12°C while in the dormant, mature stage, whereas the trees in the growing stage need protection from lower temperatures. The ideal temperature for the growth of the fig tree is 15.5 to 21°C. Fig trees growing in the mild tropical and subtropical areas exhibit certain characteristics like:

•  Continuous growth during certain part of the year

•  Rest during a well-marked period

•  Flowering and fruiting during an indistinct period

•  Dormant period with barren limbs

Region with the dry climate during fruit development and maturation is considered best for fig trees. The fig trees in regions with high humidity coupled with low temperatures generally result in cracked and low- quality fruits. The trees flourish well in regions with hot and dry winds during the April-June period.


Propagation Methods of Fig


Many techniques are used for propagating Fig such as budding, hardwood cutting, air layering and grafting. However, the most commonly used methods for commercially propagating the trees is through hardwood cuttings. The size of the hardwood cuttings should be about 20-30 cm long and 0.5 to 0.7 cm thick. These cuttings should be taken from 1 to 2-year-old shoots, especially in the month of July-August. These cuttings are then planted into rooting mixture within a polythene bag. The cuttings can also be rooted by immersing them in damp sawdust or other medium. It is also clearly observed that cuttings that are placed under the mist develop roots faster (say 3 to 4 weeks).

Propagation of figs through the seeds is not true to type and is probably used only in breeding programs.


Land Preparation and Planting of Fig Fruit Farming


The land is thoroughly ploughed and leveled before planting the rooted cuttings. Pits of dimensions 60 cm³ are dug at least one month before planting. The spacing between the plants should be 8 x 8 m normally, but a minimum spacing of 6 x 6 m (arid regions) is maintained. Cultivars of fig grown in India are planted at 5-7 m for good yield. These pits are initially prepared by filling them with a mixture of compost and garden soil. The pits are also treated with endosulfan @ 100 g per pit, to keep them safe from termites.

The depth of planting should be 2 to 4 inches for the plants to have a high survival rate. The rooted cuttings should be handled with care to avoid root damage. Dig holes deeper and wider than normal requirement and place the plants in an upright way. The soil around the roots is crumbled to pack the roots such that they come in proper contact with moist soil. Under cold weather conditions, it is advisable to delay transplanting until the winter is over. ‘Heading back' or cutting the rooted cuttings at the time of planting helps reduce water loss from the plants and develops lateral branches.


Manure and Fertilizers for Fig Trees


Fertilization of the trees majorly depends on the soil type, nutrient content, pH levels and the crop requirements. Fig trees grow well in alkaline soil; therefore lime is supplied to the soil to increase the pH if it is below 6. The fertilizers and manure composition required during various stages of plant growth are different and after the fifth year of planting it stabilizes. The composition is mentioned below and is in terms of kg/tree/year) :


•  Year 1 – FYM (25), neem cake (0.50), N (0.06), P (0.04) and K (0.04).

•  Year 2 – FYM (25), neem cake (0.50), N (0.120), P (0.08) and K (0.08).

•  Year 3 – FYM (25), neem cake (1.0), N (0.180), P (0.120) and K (0.120).

•  Year 4 – FYM (30), neem cake (1.50), N (0.24), P (0.16) and K (0.16).

•  Year 5 and beyond – FYM (35), neem cake (2.00), N (0.30), P (0.20) and K (0.20).


Irrigation Needs of Fig Orchard


This tree is considered to be fairly resistant to drought conditions and is rarely irrigated in most cultivated areas. If the tree is cultivated in a region with light soil and arid conditions, then it has to be irrigated frequently, mostly during the first two years of planting and also during the dry period. During the summer (May-June) water is supplied to the plants every 4-5 days, but during winter i.e. February-April irrigation is given at an interval of 10-15 days. No irrigation should be given during the monsoon and winter season. The trees should not be irrigated heavily during the fruit ripening period.

Irrigation through the drip system should provide at least 15-20 liters of water a day to each plant .


Pest, Disease and Disorder Management in Fig Farming


Some major pests that infest the fig trees are stem borers, beetles, leaf defoliators, scale insects and fig flies. It is observed that in arid regions with harsh climatic conditions, insect infestation is rare. Some pests other than the ones mentioned above also tend to cause problems in the farms such as birds, squirrels, etc. these bird and animal pests can cause a 100% fruit damage when no control measures are taken. Beating drums is one of the measures used in small farms to control the pests. Bird nets made of plastic or nylon are used to cover the orchard so as to protect them from birds.


The major diseases infecting the fig trees are rust and leaf spot and can be controlled by using recommended chemical fungicides. Some remedies for the control of diseases in fig trees are:


•  Destruction of the tree and replanting new recommended varieties.

•  Using neutral copper sprays for controlling the spread of disease.

•  Rake the old leaves and burn them completely.

•  Cutting the diseased tree to the ground level and growing a new top from suckers.

Other than pests and diseases, there is also the probability of disorders in the fruits like sunburn, fruit cracking, etc. Sun burns can be controlled by placing windbreaks and shelter belts. It is also advisable not to prune the fig trees heavily and expose the branches to scorching sun during summer. Heavy irrigation after a prolonged dry period can cause fruit cracking, hence irrigation should be provided at regular intervals by observing the soil condition to avoid fruit cracking.


Training and pruning of Fig Trees The fig trees are pruned annually to induce growth on the flower and fruit bearing branches. This pruning technique helps in higher productivity. In Indian weather conditions, light pruning in the last week of December is done. Some 3 or 4 buds on the shoots from the previous growth are left on the plants during pruning.


Training is done to keep the height of the trees to a certain limit. The main stem is allowed to grow to a height of 70-80 cm (max height of 1 m) from the ground level after one year of planting. After one year the side shoots are encouraged to grow in an open center system.


Harvest and Yield of Fig


The fig tree produces fruits after 2 years of planting. The plants produce a commercial harvest only in the third year of planting. The yield from the trees increases every year until the eight years and then stabilizes. Normally, the economic life of a fig tree is considered to be around 35 years. The main harvest season is during February –March and is almost over by the end of summer. Generally the fruits are harvested manually with an interval of 2 or 3 days. When the fruit turns soft and wilts at the neck, it is picked. The yield from a fig tree is approximately 180 to 360 fruits. If a fig orchard is well managed, then one can expect 12 tonnes of fruit per hectare.


Post Harvest Management of Fig


The fig fruit is highly perishable in nature and is not suitable for transport over long distances. When the fruit is intended for distant markets, then it should be harvested slightly before the full maturity. Fresh fruits that are ripe can be sold in the local markets. The fruits that are picked at optimum maturity stage are cooled within 6 hours of harvest and can be kept for 20 days at 1˚C. Similarly, the fruits can be preserved for 7 days at 10˚C and just for 2 or 3 days at 20˚C.

Excess produce can be stored by dehydration of the moisture content to about 10-12%. For storage the fruits are treated with sulphur fumes @ 4 g per 10 kg of fruits and then dried at a temperature of 60˚C until the moisture is reduced to about 12%. Dehydration controls the browning of the fruit, improves fruit texture and reduces infestation. Traditional sun drying is also practiced in some parts of the world, but this method has a high risk of infestation by pests and other pathogens.


Cost and Profit Analysis in Fig Farming


The establishment cost of a fig farm or orchard for one acre of land is described below; the report considers quantity of inputs, labor requirements etc. according to the approximate local price of a particular region. These values may vary depending on the region of the farm and the availability of labor. The fig trees should be maintained for two years before they bear fruit and the maintenance during this period is given below. The fixed costs like the land revenue or rent, depreciation values, irrigation, electricity and interest on the fixed capitals are not presented here. The report only describes variable costs required for the establishment of the fig orchard.


Material and Labor

Investment in Year 1 (Rs)

Investment in Year 2 (Rs)

Land preparation



Seedlings /planting material



Preparation and filling the pits



Cost of manure



Cost of fertilizer



Cost of inter-cultivation



Cost of plant protection



The cost of supporting the young plants



Charges for training and pruning



Charges for fencing



Approximate interest on working capital



Other Miscellaneous costs



Total variable costs (A)




The approximate labor and material cost for the maintenance of the orchard during the bearing period is given below:


Labor Charges for Maintenance Activities

Investment In Rs

3.75 mandays for Manure application


3.60 mandays for fertilizer application


2.70 mandays for the application of PPC


14 mandays for weeding


13.63 mandays for harvesting


Some extra charge for other miscellaneous work


Total (B)



Material Charges

Investment in Rs

Cost of 2 tonnes of FYM


Cost of 199 kgs of fertilizers


3.98 kgs of plant protection chemicals


Total (C)



The yield from one acre of land is: 40.70 Qtl (i.e. 4070 kgs)

The cost of 1 kg of fresh fig fruits is around: Rs 100 (approximately).

Income from the farm is: total yield x cost of each unit.

(4070 x 100) = Rs 4, 07,000.

Profit from the farm is expected only in the second year of farming:

Income – (Establishment cost in year 2 + maintenance cost (B) + material cost (C))

= (Rs 4, 07,000 – Rs 40,113) = Rs 3, 66,887.

It is to be noted that the farm may need a drip irrigation system and it would need around Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000 for one acre of land. It is not included in the calculation.


For further information please contact

Information Manager
TIMEIS Project