BRIX DEGREES AND CROP FEED
The secret of ripening and the good taste of fruits and vegetables lies in the Brix degrees. This is a parameter to measure the sweetness of a certain food based on a specific table. The more degrees Brix , therefore, the greater the sweetness. But how do we control this? Let’s talk about this not so well known pattern.
One thing before moving on. When we measure sugars with Brix degrees, we do it because we are talking about food. However, the term Brix specifically refers to measuring dry matter in solution.
If you have 25 degrees Brix it means that you have 25 grams of 100 total grams of solution. Therefore, if we squeeze a tomato and this parameter is high, it means that it has many solids with respect to the total. With these solids, in the case of tomatoes as a vegetable, they can be dissolved sugars and hence the sweet taste or not.
THE BRIX DEGREES TO KNOW THE NUTRITIONAL STATUS OF A CROP
However. We want to go further than how Brix degrees are currently used. It is normally used in agriculture to try to predict the taste or sweetness of a fruit or vegetable. It is a means of knowing the optimal point of collection . Until it reaches X degrees Brix, it is not harvested.
But more and more agronomists and technicians are using this on-site parameter of the plant to try to see if the plant is feeding properly. How is that?
Let’s see. If we manage to extract the sap of the crop through its leaves or petioles and this sap is passed through a refractometer, we can measure the Brix degrees of the sap of said plant.
This, as we have said before, gives us a value of dry matter per total liquid solution. That is, the ion load (colloquially, nutrients) that our plant has in situ.
However, the reference value that a priori we must always look at is electrical conductivity . The higher the conductivity, the greater the presence of ions there will be in the irrigation solution (water + fertilizer). For example, waters with high conductivity generally have high values of calcium, sodium, chlorides, etc.
WHAT BRIX VALUE DO WE HAVE TO HAVE IN OUR CROP?
Here many speculations arise and there is a lack of bibliography to agree on a value. But at Gardenprue we prefer to get wet rather than say nothing. Here we go!
We provide a series of data according to bibliography and experiences in leaf sap analysis:
- Solanaceae (pepper, tomato, aubergine, etc.): average value: 6. It is considered good from this value. Below 5 is considered low and may demonstrate future nutritional deficiencies.
- Brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.): average 7º Brix. Below 6 are considered low levels of dry matter in sap.
- Cucurbits (melon, watermelon, etc.): average value of 10-11 Brix degrees.
- Citrus (orange, tangerine, lemon, etc.): average value of 8 degrees.
- Vine : average value of 10 º Brix. Below 8, the nutritional intake is considered regular.
- Stone fruit trees: average value between 9 and 10 degrees Brix.
- Pome fruit trees: average value established between 9 and 10.
WHAT DO WE GET OUT OF THIS?
If our crop has adequate levels of Brix degrees, we can say the following, in theory:
- Poor soils or soils with a low level of contribution of fertilizers (if we do not act through the contribution of fertilizer), cause the crops to have low Brix levels.
- Crops with high values in this parameter have more solids dissolved in sap. Therefore, its freezing point is lower. Significant? Not much…
- More degrees Brix is related to a greater presence of sugars. Sweeter flavor in fruits.
HOW DO I GET SUITABLE LEVELS?
Logically, adding sugar to the fertilizer tank does not achieve anything. In fact, we do not even increase electrical conductivity (with salt, yes, eye).
In the end, having adequate Brix degrees is a sign that we are doing everything right. And how do we get that? With a crop planted on your calendar, with a good diet and correct and sensible nutrient intake (there are many tables that can help you), with good lighting, with a well-kept soil , etc.
Although in a past article we commented on the importance of potassium in the ripening of fruits (change of color, size, resistance to water stress, etc.), only a correct balance of macro and micronutrients can ensure that the Brix degrees are adequate.
In short, it is just one more parameter to allow us to make decisions when it comes to caring for our crops.