Figs have a unique fruiting cycle, fruiting on old wood first, all at once, then on new wood for the rest of the season. What's the best pruning system for these, to maximize production?

Is it best to balance old wood with the new in a specific way, such as pruning it to form long canes, or is it best to prune it into a dense shrub form, or some other way?

This is for optimal production measured as pounds per plant per year.

1 Answer 1


The two types of pruning cuts you can make are thinning and heading. Thinning is removing an entire shoot, branch, or limb, back to the point where it originated. Thinning cuts are the ones you should use most of the time, because they tend to open up light channels throughout the tree. Often just thinning out the limbs that are crowding or crossing over does an effective job of opening up the tree. Heading is removing part of a shoot, branch, or limb (up to 1/3 to 1/2 of its length). Heading cuts encourage growth of side branches at the point of the cut, from the part of the branch that remains. Heading should be used primarily for establishing branches in young trees. Leaders or future scaffold branches can be headed to cause laterals to branch out. In most cases heading should be avoided, as it can result in a tree overcrowded with shoots that close off light channels and reduce productivity. When heading is necessary, such as to shorten and stiffen up a long bare branch, make the heading cut into older wood, as this results in less regrowth.

Pruning is done primarily in the dormant season (November 15–April 15), so when looking at a shoot or branch to decide whether to thin or not, try to picture the branch as it will be when full of leaves in the summer, and eliminate shoots that will be too closely spaced. Keep in mind the key phrase: When in doubt, thin it out! Make most of your cuts thinning cuts.

We grow all types of fruit trees and the above it the most effective way i know.

  • Which shaping style will bring the best productivity?
    – J. Musser
    Dec 29, 2014 at 12:23

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