Hardy Chicago

According to some sources, this variety was found in the early 1980's on the southside of Chicago where it grew without any protection, but its origins are believed to be on Mount Etna (Sicily). The place where it was discovered and the fact that Hardy Chicago is nowadays a widespread cultivar in North America demonstrates its capacity to survive in very cold climates.

Furthermore, the ability to ripen an early main crop indicates that it is a very well adapted fig tree for non-mediterranean climates.

Hardy Chicago is a vigorous, but medium sized fig tree with a shrubby habit and a spreading crown, whose productivity seems to benefit from regular pruning.

It bears theoretically two crops, but doesn't produce brebas every year. Generally, the brebas are scarce, small and of modest quality. However, the most interesting aspect of this variety resides in its early, large and quite good quality main crop. The first ripe fruits can be picked by the end of August and sometimes even earlier on August 20th in 2018 and 2019 in Vienna. Usually, the entire crop may be harvested.

The main crop figs are rather on the small side (about 35 g, sometimes reaching 40 g). The fruits are rather sweet with light notes of honey and red fruits. The texture is pleasant, slightly jammy with a thin skin giving a rather pleasant sensation in the mouth.

The figs are generally purplish-blue when fully ripe, sometimes showing coppery brown and greenish glints with an often cracked skin. Resistance to humidity is average, but since these figs ripen quite early, there is a better chance of avoiding the cool and rainy periods of autumn.

As a conclusion, Hardy Chicago is a variety that is very well adapted to cold winters and short season climates. This cultivar has an extraordinary ability of wood lignification and an outstanding resistence to cold. It is an early bearer, very productive and has fruits of good quality. The breba crop is too seldomly harvested and is of poor quality.

It would make sense to assiociate Hardy Chicago to a later two crop variety (Desert King, Negronne, Dalmatie) in order to have a more reliable (and better) breba crop and to extend the main crop season in autumn.
General data
Origin Italy, Sicily
Synonym(s), local names Mongibello, Bensonhurst Purple
Tree type Common
Crop Uniferous
Tree morphological characteristics
Shape Erected
Vigor Strong
Ability to produce suckers Strong
Height after 10 years 400
Width after 10 years 350
Minimum width 300
Branch morphological characteristics
Branch color Brown grey
Caliber Medium
Buds Red
Leaves morphological characteristics
Leaves Average
Lobs 5
Depth Medium sinuses
Adaptation outside the Mediterranean area
Cold hardiness Excellent
Wind resistant Good
Pot culture Good
Breba crop
Yield Weak
Fruits dropping Partial fruit drop
Alternance Strong
Sensitivity to splitting Medium resistant
Crop begin date (day-month) Vienne:03-07
External characteristics
Skin color Green, brown-violet
Skin thickness Medium
Shape Round
Stalk Breaks off readily
Stalk shape Short and medium
Neck Medium
Neck color Green
Eye Small, closed
Eye color Red
Average weight (grams) 35 g
Internal characteristics
Pulp color Dark red
Seeds Felt, medium
Organoleptic evaluation
Texture Pasty
Sugar Little sugar
Taste Medium
Perfume Weak
Organoleptic descriptors Fruity, Melon
Main crop
Yield Strong
Fruits dropping No fruit drop
Alternance Medium
Sensitivity to splitting Medium resistant
Crop begin date (day-month) Vienne:20-08
External characteristics
Skin color Violet
Skin thickness Very thin
Shape Round
Stalk Breaks off readily
Stalk shape Short and thick
Neck Medium
Neck color Green, sometimes pink reflections
Eye Medium, closed
Eye color Red
Average weight (grams) 30 - 40 g
Internal characteristics
Pulp color Dark strawberry
Seeds Felt, medium
Organoleptic evaluation
Texture Juicy
Sugar Very sweet
Taste Very good
Perfume Medium
Organoleptic descriptors Fruity, Red berries, Honey