Using a High Tunnel to Increase Fig Tree Yield in Maryland and Conserving Local Fig Germplasm

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2024: $29,945.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2026
Grant Recipient: Thousand Springs Orchard
Region: Northeast
State: Maryland
Project Leader:
Miaochan Zhi
Thousand Springs Orchard
cuimei xu
johns hopkins university


  • Fruits: figs


  • Crop Production: high tunnels or hoop houses

    Proposal summary:

    Low temperatures in the fall and early spring have a negative
    impact on fig growth, yield, and production. Furthermore, frost
    occurrences induce fig fruit ripening delays, abscission of
    growing buds, and corresponding economic losses at the farm.
    Cultivation of fig in protected areas will aid in overcoming
    these production constraints. We propose to investigate the
    increase in fig yield under high tunnels in the cold environment
    of Maryland's Zone 7A. We have 40 one-year-old fig trees planted
    within the high tunnel and 10 fig trees planted outside the high
    tunnel. This germplasm is local with unknown varieties;
    therefore, this work also helps in selection and conservation of
    local germplasm. In addition, 5 new varieties will be selected
    for the current work. We will measure and record temperatures in
    several spots within the high tunnel throughout the experiment.
    We will also track the waking hours of the fig trees inside and
    outside the high tunnel to compare production and ripening times.
    Based on preliminary data, we predict figs planted within the
    high tunnel will yield at least five times more and ripen several
    months earlier. Figs are a subtropical fruit that is difficult to
    ship across great distances. As a result, fresh figs are scarce
    in Maryland farmers' markets. Fresh figs will help to fill a void
    at the farmers' market. We are convinced that there is a large
    demand for figs in the area, as indicated by social media posts
    in which individuals express an interest in purchasing fresh

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The main objective of this study is to evaluate the yield
    potential and season extension capabilities of figs in Maryland's
    7A zone. The project will put high tunnels to the test, along
    with naturally easy overwintering methods and specific trimming
    procedures. The ultimate goal is to provide vital information
    that will help local farmers maximize revenues by selling fresh,
    locally farmed figs. The research findings and information will
    be shared with other local farmers in order to stimulate and
    enable the production of fresh figs in the region. The goal is to
    disseminate knowledge about successful production procedures in
    order to make the availability of locally grown fresh figs a
    feasible and sustainable choice for local farmers, thereby
    contributing to the community's economic development.
    Furthermore, identifying locally available unknown fig germplasm
    at our farm will aid in the conservation of fig biodiversity in
    our region.     

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.