Figs as a Niche Crop in Northern Ohio

Project Overview

FNC18-1135
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2018: $7,494.00
Projected End Date: 11/28/2020
Grant Recipient: Hearthstone Berry Farm
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Timothy Malinich
Hearthstone Berry Farm

Commodities

  • Fruits: figs

Practices

  • Crop Production: high tunnels or hoop houses
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research

    Summary:

    Figs (Ficus carica) are a subtropical shrub grown by gardeners in many parts of the country. Figs fruit on the current year’s wood of a mature shrub with some fruit produced on two-year-old wood. Yearly dieback of growth will significantly delay or even eliminate the crop. Home production of figs outside of their temperate zone involves cultivar selection, placement in an appropriate microclimate and/or winter insulation. Commercial production requires reliable and affordable methods of providing the same protection.

    Some operations have begun to grow figs in high tunnels to produce a niche crop for their market. Production of figs with winter protection needs to be quantified for return on investment under various overwintering conditions. A comparison of methods with a control group will be needed. Figs will be grown in high tunnels, under low tunnels and with no protection. Four varieties of hardy figs will be used. The crop will be irrigated. Data collected will include: harvest dates and quantities; annual growth (caliper and length); insect and disease problems; and sales. Successful establishment of a fig planting for research could lead to new information regarding fig production such as pruning and pest problems in this region.

    Project objectives:

    1. Establish a trial planting of figs using three types of overwintering methods: high tunnels, low tunnels, no protection (control).
    2. Trial four hardy fig varieties.
    3. Make a comparison with existing fig planting in USDA Zone 6.
    4. Quantify the shrub’s annual growth and harvest for each method.
    5. Make seasonal observations to look for growth characteristics or problems that may be unique to high-tunnel production in Ohio.
    6. Prepare sample budgets for each production method.
    7. Provide outreach and education to other growers in the region.
    • Extension Programs
    • Trade Association Meetings
    • On-Farm Field days
    • Curriculum for programs
    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.