Wednesday, May 23, 2012

LSU Improved Celeste fig (is not the same as the O'Rourke fig)

LSU Improved Celeste fig

LSU Improved Celeste fig

LSU Improved Celeste fig

Dead Ripe.....LSU Improved Celeste fig

LSU Improved Celeste (bottom center)

LSU Improved Celeste (bottom center)

Above are some old pictures of the LSU Improved Celeste fig. Click on the next link to see more current pictures of 2012 first Main Crop LSU Improved Celeste figs. This fig can produce two Main crops per season.

This particular fig IS NOT the same as the O'Rourke fig which was officially released to the public by LSU in 2007. LSU Improved Celeste is about 33% larger in size than a regular Celeste fig. You can see this quite well in the last two picutes which have regular Celeste figs in the picture too. Notice the full pulp (no interior void) of this fig.....that is a good trait. This cultivar can produce a light breba crop in some years. These figs have an excellent taste with very good sugar content. Those figs that ripen in cooler fall weather still will taste very good.  That means this cultivar will taste very good even in a northern climate. They hold on to the tree real well  under dry conditions. The tree is winter hardy like a regular Celeste. It has a very pronounced "figgy" flavor that I really like. Dead ripe LSU Improved Celeste figs (as can be seen hanging in the above picture) can acquire that AWESOME taste rating as the pulp interior turns into a super rich and jammy texture......with complex flavor overtones. That complex flavor will linger on your tongue and palate for several minutes after you take your last bite. It is like biting into a bit of paradise!!

LSU Improved Celeste appears to be an almost everbearing fig. It can bear from Mid/late June until first frost (typically 6/15à7/30; 8/20à11/30 in my yard).  The dead ripe fig on the tree above ripened in my yard in November. The other in the background was eaten on Thanksgiving day.

LSU Improved Celeste is becoming very popular in the  "u-pick-it" fruit orchards here in south Louisiana. It makes a superior tasting fig preserve. Fig processors have noticed less product loss when cooking these figs. This means they are able to produce more fig preserve product for sales. The near everbearing trait allows the u-pick-it operations to have ripe figs over a longer season (more productive). This means more sales. Old time Queen Celeste fig trees are actually being replaced by this new hybrid fig. LSU Improved Celeste is a money making fig.  It is larger in size, holds on to the tree real well, and is more productive than its mother. This is proof certain that Dr. O'Rourke attained his research goal of producing an "improved" version of the Queen Celeste fig that once dominated the fig industry in Louisiana.

Keep in mind that there are at least three stains of "Improved  Celeste" in current retail trade. Repeat.....this is the LSU Improved Celeste and it is not the same fig as the O'Rourke fig. In a future post, I will give specific details how you can tell these two cultivars apart BEFORE they bear fruit.

Note:   This post is not meant to detract or take anything away from the O'Rourke cultivar. O'Rourke is yet another excellent LSU sibling fig to have in any collection. It will be discussed in another post. I have both of these in my collection and would not want to do without either one of them.

Much more on this later..........

Click on the following link to see more pictures of 2012 first Main Crop LSU Improved Celeste figs. It really is a beautiful fig........

Semper Fi-cus


noss said...

Hi Dan. This is great you've started a blog on figs. I've missed you. I wish you'd give me a call and let me know how you're doing.


King Fig said...

Hello Noss,

I'm doing just fine thank you. I've been busy hunting for more heirloom figs and optimizing my "drawfing" technique for producing smaller sized fig trees. This fig blog only began a month age. I have a lot to say about the figs that I grow and this is where I will say it. FYI, I'm fed up with cetain fig forum members and do not go there any more. The primary audience for my fig blog are the good people of Louisiana.

Pooya said...

Hi Dan, I have questions regarding celeste vs Improved Celeste vs O'Rourke in regards to flavor and the eye. BTW I'm in Zone 7a outside DC. And I have not planted any of these three but wish to.

1) Seems like regular old Celeste still gets the most consistent high flavor ratings with IC and O'Rourke getting mixed reviews for flavor--not doubt often reaching excellent flavor too but perhaps neither as consistently good flavored as regular ol' Celeste?

2) I have read the eye is tighter on the regular ol' Celeste as well, with both IC and O'Rourke having slightly more open eyes. Is it open enough that it causes problems (i.e. having to pick before dead ripe because of insects crawling in)?

So in conclusion, my concern is although IC and O'Rourke give you much more production by mass (each individual fig plus overall tree productivity) with still great taste and good reliability, regular ol' Celeste is actually overall still a more consistently better tasting and reliable fig due to tighter eye.

What do you think? Thanks for your blog and input and all the discussion on differentiating these based on leaf morphology etc. Thanks a lot.

King Fig said...

Hello Pooya,

With a name like Pooya, you might be part Cajun!

Celeste did not become the Queen fig of the South by accident. It is a great tasting fig and an ALL purpose fig.....for cooking too. However, not all fig trees that are labled "Celeste" will produce the same kind of figs. The quality can be variable and is dependant on the source. One of the problems with Celeste (especially in pot culture) is that it can drop its figs during hot weather. That is not good and will turn many people off to this fig. LSU IC and O'Rourke do not do that.

Regarding, LSU one and I do mean NO ONE on any fig forum has grown LSU IC longer than me. The qualily and conistency of the figs from a mature tree is excellent. Yes, it does have a small but open eye. However, I have never had bugs get inside of my figs. Nor have I seen any bugs inside of the figs from a mature 20+ year old tree. These figs will hang on the tree real well and ripen to perfection if the birds don't see them. They would dry on the tree if it weren't for the humidity in my area. During heavy rains (1/2 inch or more per day) over an extended period of time (like we have had in my yard these past two weeks) they can split and sour.....but, the same goes for many regular Celeste during those times. Even Sal, Gino's, Dark Portugese, Hardy Chicago, etc. have had the same problem. What is great about LSU IC fig is that it ripens figs all summer and does not drop its figs. I will have more before the end of the season. Those fruiting qualities are important to many people.

I have less personal growing experience with O'Rourke and will only say that it is an excellent tasting fig. It too does have a small but open eye.

Finally, you CANNOT judge a fig's fruit quality and bug resistance by its eye characteristics alone. I suggest that you read the following post if you haven't already:


Pooya said...

Appreciate your advice and sharing your experience with us! This blog is a fantastic resource :).

Neil said...

Do you know if these cuttings linked below are genuine LSU Improved Celeste. The nursery is called HickoryHouse2012.

King Fig said...

Hello Neil,

I am not familiar with this nursery and cannot vouch for the authenticity of their fig cultivars.