Chapter 11 - Fruit growth and postharvest physiology

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A grape is a 'berry', so that fruits on sultana grape vines are stenospermocarpic berries! Pollination and fertilisation were successful, but embryos so formed soon aborted. Pericarp tissues none the less continued their development to produce the familiar item of commerce about 100 d later. A range of stages in that development is shown here. Upper-row fruit illustrate stages in preveraison development where fruit are small, hard, green and accumulating organic acid. Postveraison fruit (lower row) are transluscent, soft textured, enlarging rapidly and accumulating sugar. Scale bar = 5 mm.

(Photograph courtesy E.A. Lawnton)

Whence it is probable, that the use of these leaves, (which are placed, just where the fruit joins the tree) is to bring nourishment to the fruit. And accordingly, I observe ... that all peach leaves are pretty large before the blossom goes off; And that in apples and pears the leaves are one third or half grown, before the blossom blows: So provident is nature in making timely provision for nourishing the yet embrio fruit ...

(Stephen Hales, Vegetable Staticks, 1727)

Most of the exaggerated developments of certain parts of the basic fruit structure arose naturally but have been accentuated by modern breeding programs to maximize the desirable features of each fruit and minimize the superfluous features. The production of seedless cultivars of certain fruits represents an extreme development in this latter respect.

(Wills et al., Postharvest, 1989)