Everyone enjoys a seedless grape or watermelon. We like the luscious goodness of the fruit without having to continually remove any hard seeds from our teeth. In short, seedless fruits give us all the pleasure of the fruit without any of the pain.
Still, all fruits come from seeds. So, question: “Why are all these seedless varieties around?”
Here is a rundown on common seedless fruits:
Perhaps the most commonly encountered type of the seedless fruit, grapes — especially the Thompson variety — are a model of botanical design. We use them for jam, jelly, juice, wine, raisins, oil and even vinegar. How do we grow them without seeds? Simple: use cuttings of last year’s plants to keep propagating the species. Fascinating botany.
Specifically bred to produce an early ripening fruit and a late ripening seed. We get a white, underdeveloped and easily ingested seed suitable for sale as “seedless.” Leave damaged melons behind until the fruit has rotted, yet seed matured. We then plant mature seeds for next season’s crop.
Some species such as the pineapple — as well as the cucumber and the tomato — will produce unseeded fruit if not pollinated. With pollination, they create seeded fruit. We propagate pineapples and their cousins via grafting. This process is essentially cloning and works quite well except for the diminution of genetic diversity in the host plants.
Technically speaking, we make seedless bananas from triploid plants whose three sets of chromosomes make it very unlikely for cellular meiosis to produce fertile gametes. In layman’s terms, we take the meristem of the banana plant to develop an entirely new one. Handy for the grower, as it allows him to sell all the edible parts and still plant the non-edible ones.
Believe it or not, this type of fruit — that includes peaches, plums and apricots — with large pits is easily propagated without the help of internal “stones.” Drupes — otherwise known as stone fruits — are almost exclusively repopulated through the use of budding. I.e, grafting an existing drupe tree limb onto a hardier rootstock
Seedless fruit production is a thriving business that provides a steady supply to the marketplace and a decent profit margin to the producer. The entire process would not be possible without a thorough scientific understanding of the biology of these plants. In short, seedless fruits are wonders of modern biological science.