Image credit: Figues du Monde

Identifying Breba Producing Fig Varieties

What is a Breba?

A breba (or breva in Spanish, and sometimes as taqsh) is a fig that develops on an edible fig tree in the spring on the previous year’s shoot growth. In contrast, the main fig crop develops on the current year’s shoot growth and ripens in late summer or fall. Breba figs of certain varieties don’t always develop the rich flavor that the main crop has. Growers of those varieties frequently discard the brebas before they ripen to encourage growth of the main crop because the main crop is generally superior in both quantity and quality to the breba crop. Other cultivars such as Black Mission and Ventura produce good breba crops.

In some cold climates the breba crop is often destroyed by spring frosts. However, in other areas, the summer may be too cool for the main crop to set so the breba crop is the only crop that will ripen. Desert King has become such a precious breba producer in the PNW, in spite of it being a San Pedro type variety.

Why Brebas?

If the quality of brebas is inferior to the main crop of many varieties, then why would one want a variety that produces brebas? As mentioned above, some brebas are actually quite tasty, but there are a couple more very good reasons.

Early Figs

After spending the winter without fresh figs, many fig lovers look forward to a fresh fig, even an inferior one. After all, even a lower quality fig is better than no fig at all.

Size

Generally, brebas tend to be larger than their main crop counterparts. Take a look at the Longue d’Aout image on the right. The breba (left) is substantially larger the the main crop (right). Some just love large figs and brebas clearly reign over the main crop in this department.

Image credit: kubota1 @ OurFigs

Finding Breba Producing Varieties

Identifying breba producing fig varieties is easy with the Fig Variety Database. You may view the current list at any time via this link: Breba Producing Varieties. Or on the FVDB search page just go to the Brebas field, select Yes, then press the search button. It’s that simple!

And, as always, if you have any additions or corrections, please contact me.

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