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''Speeches of Mr. Sorgun Ozbalci in Foodnews
Dried Fruit and Nuts Conference-2003 Amsterdam''
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''Consumption and Product Trends in Turkey - Dried Fruits and Nuts''
Click here to read more for Mr. Ozbalci's speech in DFN 2004 Conference
Smyrna figs are considered to be the most desirable fig. They are judged better in flavor than the parthenocarpic fruits because the skin is more tender and the oil in the fertilized seeds give the fig extra flavor.
Most fig varieties produce crops of figs wherever they grow, such as the Common types (e.g., Adriatic, Mission, and Kadota), the caprifig, and San Pedro type. However, the Smyrna (Izmir) figs do not set fruits when they are grown alone. In 1880, Californians began to import and widely plant Smyrna figs, which have the most desirable fruits. The trees looked healthy, but never formed ripe fruits--all the synconia fell off when the fruits were the size of a marble. In fact, the first successful harvest of Smyrna figs in California was 1900. The lack of fruit production in these figs posed a major riddle and economic problems for California growers until they finally understood the biology of fig production.

The story of the Smyrna fig must include the story of the caprifig. Briefly stated, for fruit development to occur, the Smyrna fig needs pollen from the caprifig. Kadota and other common figs do not need the caprifig, even though they lack pollen, because syconium development is "parthenocarpic," i.e., it proceeds directly without pollination and fertilization (see also pineapple and banana).

In the case of fruit set for Smyrna figs, branches with profichi figs of the caprifig are collected and hung in the late afternoon within the fig tree canopy. The next morning the fig wasps emerge from the profichi figs and then transfer pollen to the young Smyrna pistils. Enough fertilization takes place to promote Smyrna fruit development. This process is called caprification. Caprification was practiced for centuries in the Old World without understanding the pollination mechanism; but the process had to be verified and understood in California (by Eisen in the 1890s) before it could be accepted as sound horticultural practice. Caprifigs were imported to California from Algiers in 1899, which began the western Smyrna fig industry. Three to five caprifigs are grown at fig orchards for every 100 Smyrna fig plants, to provide the necessary pollen and fig wasps.

Speaking of extra flavor, it is true that the skeleton of a female wasp plus some dead larvae of the next generation fig wasps occur in Smyrna figs; however, the consumer hardly notices these inclusions. The "crunch" of the Smyrna fig is the oily seeds.

There are traces that figs were cultivated in their motherland Anatolia in the years of 3000-2000 B.C. and they were spread through the Mediterranean from Anatolia within time.

Turkey is the biggest dried fig producer with a share of 60-70%, and in world dried fig export with a share of 75%.

  Aso Gida Sanayi Ticaret ve Paz. Ithalat Ihracat Ltd. Sti.// Email : aso@asofood.com