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Acid Soil May
Be Fig Tree's Problem If The
Fruit Quality Is Suffering
Dear Plant Doctor: Hie past
three years I have contacted you by
phone in reference to my fig tree.
The fruit is hard and no good to eat.
Each time you send me information
on fig culture. I still have a problem
as you can see by the figs enclosed.
I transferred my fig trees from
Fayetteville to Brunswick County
four years ago. Prior to moving
these trees, they produced good
fruit. What can I do to help these
trees produce good fruit? ? Supply
ANSWER: Thank you for your
letter. The reason I continue to send
you letters on fig culture is I believe
you have a soil problem that is influ
encing your fruit quality. It is most
likely a root pruning parasite, a nu
trient toxicity, or a nutrient deficien
cy is causing your fruit to be so
hard. No fungal disease is evident
on the fruit.
Figs do best in a soil that has a pH
between 6.0 and 7.0. Figs can toler
ate more alkaline soils easier than
acid soils. 1 often see extremely acid
soils in your neck of the woods. If
the soil pH is too acid, then some
plant nutrients may be unavailable
while others may be toxic to your
fig plant. Take a soil sample and
submit for analysis (at your county
Cooperative Extension Office) to
determine the pH and inherent fertil
ity of your soil.
Severe nematode infestations can
also influence your fruit quality.
Nematodes love to feed on fig roots.
High populations of plant parasitic
nematodes can seriously harm the
ability of your plant to extract water
and nutrients from the soil. Use a
compost rich in shrimp shells, fish
scales, poultry feathers or other
high-chitin-containing material to
reduce nematode populations.
Figs are heavy feeders. For best
results, apply one pound of an 8-8
8- fertilizer for each year of age un
til a maximum of 12 pounds of fer
tilizer per plant is reached; then
maintain this rate each year. If the
age of your tree is unknown, apply 1
pound of fertilizer per year for each
foot of height. Apply the fertilizer as
follows: heavy soils (clays or silts),
when buds swell; sandy soils, half
when buds swell and the other half
in late May. Place fertilizer over
mulch in a circle starting from the
ends of the branches and working
toward the trunk in a one-foot band.
If the fig plant produces more than 1
to 2 feet of new stem growth per
year, reduce or eliminate nitrogen
fertilization. Excessive nitrogen re
sults in light trailing, fruit splitting
Dear Plant Doctor: The leaves
on my dogwood are turning brown
from the tip inward (sample en
closed). I just pi? n ted these trees
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earlier this year and do not want to
lose them. What is the problem?
ANSWER: You have a classic
ease of leaf scorch. Recently planted
trees do not have an extensive root
system. The roots are all concentrat
ed in the pot or a root ball. During
hot, dry weather (like the spring we
just had) the newly planted tree does
not have a root system sufficient
enough to forage for a!! the water
needed for plant growth. The plant
will lose water through the leaves
faster than the root system can sup
I ply water.
You must water the plant until an
adequate root system can be devel
oped. Recently planted dogwoods
and Japanese maples are especially
susceptible to leaf scorch during hot,
Dear Plant Doctor: I have beau
tiful crape myrtles this year but the
leaves are getting a disease and I am
afraid the plant will die. Some
leaves get a gray-white mold on
them while other leaves get large
brown spots and then fall off. Is
there a spray I can use to get rid of
this disease? ? Wilmington
ANSWER: Your problem is due
to powdery mildew (Crysiphe lager
stroemiae). Crape myrtles (Lager -
stroemia indica ) are prone to pow
dery mildew problems, but the dis
ease is easily controlled with appli
cations of the fungicides Banner
(propiconazole) or Bayleton (tri
adimefon). Follow all label direc
tions. Many new crape myrtle culti
vars have varying levels of genetic
resistance to powdery mildew, so be
sure to plant new varieties with re
sistance to the disease to reduce fu
ture pesticide applications.
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Send your gardening questions or
comments to the Plant Doctor, P.O.
Box 109, Bolivia NC 28422.
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