Origin and distribution
The fig belongs to the family Moraceae and believed to be indigenous to western Asia. It is distributed throughout the Mediterranean and middle eastern region of Iran, Pakistan, Greece and northern India and also in other areas of the world with a similar climate, including southern states in the United States; south-western British Columbia an Canada; North-eastern Mexico as well as area of Argentina, Australia, Chile and South Africa. Currently Turkey is the top producer, followed by Egypt and other Mediterranean countries. In India, it is called as Anjeer, Anjir is under cultivation since ancient times.
The fig tree is deciduous,5 to 15 m tall, branches muscular and spreading wider. Fig leaves are bright green, single, alternate and large, more or less deeply lobed with 1-5 sinuses, rough hairy on the upper surface and softly hairy on the underside. The tiny flowers are invisible, they are clustered inside the green fruits which are called synconium.
Pollinating insects mostly wasps entered to the flower through an opening at the apex on the synconium, however, most fruits are set parthenocarpically. The mature fruit has a tough green suffused with brown, brown or purple), often cracked upon ripeness and exposing the pulp beneath. The interior is a white inner rind containing a seed mass bound with jelly-like flesh. The edible seeds are numerous and generally hollow unless pollinated. Pollinated seeds of dried fig have bestowed the characteristics of nutty taste.
Nutritional value and uses
Fig is highly nutritive fruit. It is rich in calories, protein and calcium, iron and highest fibre content. Figs are eaten fresh or dried and use in jam making. Fig is valued for its laxative properties and is used in the treatment of skin infection. The nutritional value per 100 g dried fig is given below.
|Energy (kcal)||249.00||Vitamin B1 (mg)||0.08||Calcium (mg)||162.00
|Carbohydrate (g)||63.87||Vitamin B2 (mg)||0.08||Iron (mg)||2.03|
|-Sugars (g)||47.92||Vitamin B3 (mg)||0.61||Magnesium (mg)||68.00|
|-Dietary fibre (g)||9.80||Vitamin B5 (mg)||0.43||Phosphorus (mg)||67.00
|Fat (g)||0.93||Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.10||Potassium (mg)||680.00
|Protein (g)||3.30||Vitamin C (mg)||1.20||Zinc (mg)||0.55
Fig thrives well on medium to heavy, calcareous well-drained, deep soil having pH of 7-8. Although it does well even on light sandy, shallow soils, deep soils are better suited for root establishment. The tree can survive in low temperature as low as -100C. Fig plants are usually propagated by cuttings, however, it can be propagated through layers and grafts.
For cuttings, about 40- 50 cm long with 3-5 internodes, less than 2.5 cm diameter, are taken from two years old wood at the base and placed in sand or nursery bed. After 75 days, they are transplanted to polythene bags containing garden soil, sand and farmyard manure in 1:1:1 ratio and planted in the field after 4- 6 months at a distance of 5×5 m in the pits of 1x1x1 m size. Pits should be filled with a mixture of compost, soil and sand.
Once the tree is planted in the pit the soil around the plant should be tamped firmly and watering immediately. Regular basin cleaning and time to time irrigation are important for the growth of the tree. Fig trees should be trained initially to a single stem to encourage a wide, symmetrical crown with a mechanically-strong framework.
The tree is allowed to grow for about a meter and then it is head back, which includes side branches all around the main stem. Fig tree can bear little pruning, but keeping in mind that most of the fruits are borne on the growth of the current year. Recommended manure and fertilizer for fig is 15 kg FYM, and 500 g mixture of NPK in the ratio of 2:1:1 for 2 years old plants/year and it can be subsequently increased as the tree advances in the age. Harvesting of figs depends on their use. About 90% of the figs produced in the world are dried, but fig produced in India is mostly sold as fresh. Ripe fruits are delicate and must be harvested carefully and used fresh as they are perishable.
A total of 10 accessions (EC452167, EC452168, EC619085, EC619090, EC619092, EC619093, IC349964, IC558074, IC538538, and IC566134) are being maintained at field gene bank. The exotic accessions were introduced from the USA and have large fruit size and dwarf tree size as compared to indigenous accessions.
- National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources Regional Station Phagli, Shimla –