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Steven A. Weinbaum, Theodore M. DeJong, and John Maki

In a simple, yet elegant experiment conducted 30 years ago, Chan and Cain (1967) using 'Spencer Seedless', a facultatively parthenocarpic apple (Malus×domestica Borkh.) cultivar, proposed that seeds inhibited flowering and accentuated biennial bearing in apple. Their conclusions have been extrapolated widely to include apple and other species. We have tested the universality of their conclusions using 'Bartlett' pear (Pyrus communis L.), a commercially important, facultatively parthenocarpic cultivar. Unlike 'Spencer Seedless' apples and seedless 'Bartlett' pear grown in France, California-grown seedless 'Bartlett' pear fruit strongly inhibited flowering the following year. However, the presence of seeds increased 'Bartlett' pear fruit size relative to seedless fruit by 13% and 20% in nonthinned and heavily-thinned pear trees, respectively, indicating that seeds increased fruit sink strength.