Certain class of figs is referred to as a Smyrna type. It requires pollination by the fig wasp. The process of pollinating the figs is referred to as “Caprification”. The fig wasp can only be found in the Mediterranean region, but in early 1900’s it was imported to California from Turkey.
Here’s the common method used in Syria.
In the middle of June, fig growers in the village of Kefranbel, in Northwest Syria work on pollinating their fig trees. They do so by picking the male figs and hook them on a string and later hang them on fig trees that require pollination.
The locals buy the male figs (aka Capri fig) from merchants that bring their male figs from a different town, since the local capri fig ripens late.
Here’s the Capri figs for sale at the town market. You can see small insects emerging from the figs, these are the fig wasps.
After purchasing a quantity of the Capri figs they are carried over to the fig orchards to begin the process. The whole family is gathered to help.
A metal string is inserted into the figs, about 8 figs to a string.
Later the string figs are taken to be hung on the tree branches to start the method of pollinating the figs.
The male stringed figs are then thrown on the tree, aiming towards the middle or the top of the tree is ideal.
The male figs remain hung on the tree for 3-5 days as the wasps continue to emerge and pollinate the figs.
The pollinated figs continue to grow developing a large size.
Within the next two months the pollinated figs are ready to be picked. Pollinated figs are of known to be of excellent quality. Too many stringed male figs on the tree can cause spoilage, too little and the unpollinated figs of the smyrna type will drop without maturing
Do you know if there are any farms that sell capri figs to the common man trying to grow figs of California?
Butler farm used to be the only place that sold them, but I understand they stopped their operation.
Fig varieties that do not require caprification, can be caprified and get bigger and tastier than if not caprified?