Last week my gardening friend and I walked around the Fig Study looking for branches to cut and propagate. We were hoping to take one branch from each plant to cut into 3-4 sections to try and root. Our thought was, if any of the trees die over the winter, we'll have a replacement tree to replant in the spring. (Nevermind the dubious wisdom of replanting a variety that has already shown it can't survive the winter. That's a topic for another day.) But what we noticed was that the branches don't look right. We got a very sudden cold snap (down to 25 degrees) on October 18 when the trees were in full leaf and it had been in the 80s just days before. It looks like the sap froze and burst the outer layer of the branches - the tips are brown and shepherd's crooked, the bark is crepe papery, and the leaves are dried up but still very well attached. We were not planning to prune the trees this first year other than taking a single branch to propagate in case of winter kill. But I did end up cutting several branches looking for something that might be viable. A few of the varieties looked better than others, but none of them looked great.
Contrast that to last year when I took cuttings from a local variety in January after multiple deep freezes and the cuttings grew just fine. This year, almost all the figs in the Study and at my house seem to have been blasted by that sudden early deep freeze. Does anyone have experience with or thoughts on the viability of branches that have been frozen? Is freezing before dormancy the issue? Are there identifying characteristics that predict which stems are still viable and which aren't?