Pre-harvest foliar application of ethephon strengthens gibberellins-induced fruit expansion in Pyrus pyrifolia.
To identify the roles of ethylene in fruit development in Japanese pear Pyrus pyrifolia 'Niitaka', one of the non-climacteric genotypes, source-sink strength and fruit development during fruit expansion were investigated when ethephon was applied after a conventional gibberellic acid (GA) lanolin paste treatment on the pedicel. The results demonstrate that the conventional GA treatment during the early stage of fruit expansion resulted in larger fruit size and advanced fruit maturation, but pre-harvest foliar application of ethephon only advanced fruit maturation. However, pre-harvest foliar application of ethephon with a preceding conventional GA treatment during the early stage of fruit expansion dramatically improved fruit size and advanced fruit maturation over GA or ethephon alone. Moreover, the early foliar application of ethephon showed a better efficacy in increasing fruit size than the late spraying. A further study revealed that when ethephon was applied after the conventional GA treatment, it improved source-sink strength associated with leaf photosynthesis and the specific rate of [C] accumulation in fruit, and also strengthened cell expansion more than did GA or ethephon alone.