How to Prune Fig Trees for Maximum Yield

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Many fig enthusiasts enjoy the challenge of growing their own trees. One important aspect of fig tree care is pruning. Pruning not only helps to shape the tree, but can also promote fruit production.

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Figs are a relatively easy fruit tree to grow and take care of, but in order to get the most fruit possible, proper pruning is essential. Fig trees produce fruit on last year’s wood, so pruning at the wrong time of year can result in a reduced yield. By following these simple steps, you can make sure your fig tree is properly pruned for maximum fruit production.

1. Wait until late winter or early spring to prune your fig tree. This is the time of year when the tree is dormant and will be less susceptible to stress from pruning.

2. Cut back any dead or diseased wood first. This will help promote new growth and prevent the spread of disease within the tree.

3. Next, remove any suckers that are growing from the roots or trunk of the tree. These suckers will not produce fruit and will compete with the main branches for nutrients.

4. Once the dead wood and suckers have been removed, you can begin to shaped the tree by trimming back any overgrown branches. Be sure to make your cuts just above a set of leaves, as this is where new growth will occur.

5. Finally, thin out any overcrowded branches to ensure that each branch has enough space to produce fruit. Doing this will also increase air circulation within the canopy of the tree, which will help prevent fungal diseases from developing

The Basics of Fig Tree Pruning

Pruning is an important part of fig tree care. Pruning fig trees encourages fruit production, and can also help keep the tree healthy and strong. Fig trees can be pruned in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.


You can prune your fig tree at just about any time of year, but the best time to do it is in late winter or early spring, before the sap starts to flow and new growth begins. This will give the tree a chance to heal and recover before it has to put out new leaves and branches.

Cutting Tools

When pruning your fig tree, you will need a few sharp cutting tools. A pair of slightly curved pruning shears are ideal for most of the cuts you will need to make. You will also need a small, sharp hand pruner for making any cuts that are too small for the shears. A long-handled lopper can also be helpful for making large cuts.

All of your cutting tools should be sharpened before you begin pruning. This will help to ensure that all of your cuts are clean and made in the correct place. Sharpening your cutting tools will also help to prevent damage to the bark or wood of your fig tree.


There are two ways to prune fig trees—by thinning or by heading back. Thinning is the process of removing an entire branch at its point of origin on the trunk or main scaffold branches. Heading back is the process of cutting a branch back to a lateral or secondary branch.

The best time to prune fig trees is in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This ensures that the tree will have plenty of time to heal before the stresses of summer set in.

When pruning, always use sharp, clean pruning tools to make clean cuts. Sterilize pruning tools between cuts with rubbing alcohol or a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water to prevent the spread of disease.

Thinning allows air and light to penetrate the canopy, which reduces disease pressure and encourages fruiting. Thinning also decreases the overall weight of the canopy, which makes the tree less susceptible to wind damage and makes it easier to harvest fruit.

To thin a fig tree, remove branches that are:
-Crossing or rubbing against other branches
-Dead, diseased, or damaged
-Dormant (not currently producing leaves or fruit)
-Suckers (shoots growing from the base of the trunk)

##Heading Back (Pinching)
Heading back encourages lateral branch growth, which increases fruit production. When heading back fig branches, make sure not remove more than one-third of the live tissue. More than that can shock the tree and delay fruiting.

To head back a fig branch:
-Locate a healthy lateral branch that is pointing in the direction you want the main branch to grow.
-Using sharp pruning shears, cut the main branch just above (1/4 inch) the lateral branch at a 45-degree angle.

Advanced Fig Tree Pruning

For those of you who want to get the most out of your fig trees, advanced pruning techniques can give you the highest yield possible. Pruning your fig tree correctly will also ensure that the fruit is of the best quality. This article will teach you everything you need to know about pruning fig trees for maximum yield.


Topping is the process of removing the tips of the main branches in order to encourage the formation of lateral branches that will produce more fruit. Topping should be done in late winter or early spring before the tree breaks dormancy and begins to grow. The reason for this is that when a tree is cut, it sends out a hormone called auxin that signals the tree to form new growth. If topping is done after the tree has already begun to grow, the auxin will be evenly distributed throughout the tree and new growth will be formed all over, rather than just at the tips of the branches. This can result in a weaker overall structure and decreased fruit production.

When pruning fig trees, always use clean, sharp pruning shears or knives. This will help prevent disease from spreading and ensure that your cuts are clean and effective. Make sure to sterilize your pruning tools between cuts by dipping them in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.

Fig trees can be topped as high as desired, but for most home growers, topping at about 24 inches (60 cm) will be sufficient. When topping fig trees, make sure to remove only about one-third of the total length of each branch. This will ensure that adequate leaves are left behind to provide energy for fruit production while still encouraging lateral growth.

Fruiting Wood Removal

Fruiting wood removal is a type of pruning that involves the complete removal of fruiting wood from the fig tree. This is typically done in the late winter or early spring, before the tree begins to produce new growth. The goal of this type of pruning is to stimulate the tree to produce more fruit, by increasing the amount of available sunlight and air circulation to the fruit-bearing branches.

To remove fruiting wood, start by pruning away any dead or dying branches. Then, cut back any branches that are overcrowded or rubbing against each other. Finally, thin out the remaining branches so that there is about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) between each one.

Renewal Pruning

Renewal pruning is recommended for neglected fig trees, or for those that have not been pruned in 3-5 years. Remove one-fourth to one-third of the oldest, largest canes, cutting them off at the ground. Next, thin out any remaining canes that are less than 6 inches apart, cutting them back to 6-8 inches. Finish by removing any suckers that are growing from the roots.


In conclusion, pruning your fig tree will ensure a bountiful harvest, and will also help to keep your tree healthy and strong. With just a little bit of care, you can enjoy delicious figs for years to come.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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