Nutrient dense crops! Brix! Refractometer! New terms looming on the horizon? Not new but not mainstream...yet.
What is a refractometer? It is a hand-held or digital instrument used to measure the amount of bend or refraction in the rays of light as they pass through plant sap. Light enters the prism and depending on the percentage of dissolved solids in the juice it will refract the light at a different angle. This angled light is projected to the eyepiece scale where the Brix concentration can be read. Simply put, it’s a fuel gauge for your plant, a way to measure the sucrose or mineralization in a plant. Using a refractometer is easy, a drop of plant sap is placed on the lens, the lens is held up to a light source and looking through the eye piece will give you an instant brix reading.
What is brix? Developed by German chemist, Adolf Brix in 1897 for the wine trade, the brix scale is the measurement of sugar in a liquid. Brix varies directly with plant quality. For example, a poor, sour tasting grape from worn out land can test 8 or less brix. A full flavored, delicious grape, grown on rich, fertile soil can test 24 or better brix. Dr Carey Reams is responsible for developing “The Refractive Index of Crop Juices” or brix chart, which grades crops as poor, average, good or excellent based on the degrees of brix reading on the refractometer.
What benefits does a high brix plant have? To the consumer high brix means better quality, nutrient density and it just plain tastes better. Armed with a refractometer and a brix chart the consumer is able to test the products they chose to purchase. With health being one of the main market drivers in the grocery market, consumers are willing to pay more for healthier produce. To the producer a high brix plant means a healthier crop. Plants that are higher in sugar are more resistant to frost, drought, and insect pressures. Insects are unable to digest sucrose as they don’t have a pancreas so a high brix crop is able to withstand an insect infestation. High brix plants are more immune to molds, fungus, algae and other diseases.
So shouldn’t every producer strive for a high brix, nutrient dense crop? How do you start to grow healthier plants? It all starts in the soil, balancing the soil, getting the soil back to the way nature designed it to work. This can be achieved through the use of good, clean plant available minerals, and biologically friendly products. It only makes sense that once the quality is back in the soil the quality will come back to the plant.
Written by Deb Agrey
Back to Your Roots Soil Solutions Inc.