Dont Panic Its Organic - Brix Infomation
How to use this information:
How can a Low Brix Alert translate into a problem?
See P A G E
Lets say your tomato has a Brix reading of 10 which is good (but should be 12 or higher with 18 + at optium). So lets say you have had reg readings of 10 brix and then you suddenly have a brix reading of 8! Then next reading of 6! You just went from good reading level(8) to an adverage reading level of 6! Adverage readings means your plants bearly have what they need to function properly and they might be suceptable to certain pests attacking them. If the Brix levels drop to 6, you are now in the poor range and plants will (if not allready) be attacked by many insects including but not limited to tomato hornworm, aphids (herded by ants), as well as diseases since trace minerals are needed to cotrol diseases as well as the fact that many insects bring their own dieases with them.
How often you take a reading depends on a few factors such as how much of a garden you have, how many plants and how much time you have. Testing a plant every day would destroy the plant so I suggest you use your refractometer once a week on a different plant. Keep a log of which plants you tested. You do not have to test every plant as long as they are they same type of plants. So if you have say 10 tomato plants of 4 varieties, then you can test a dif plant but same variety. A change in one should refleck what may be happening to the others. You can of course test a plant you think is either looking funny or has a pest or disease.
Testing is done by squeezing sap from parts of the plant- leaves, stem, etc. use distiled water and add a drop of the water onto a leave and then mash togther to form a green liquid. I like using a motar and pistle to make my samples for leaves and I use a garlc crushers for fruits.
How to use a refractometer in the Garden
A Refractometer is pretty simple to use, depending on your model. I have a traditional portable refractometer I bought from GrowOrganic.com. Digital refractometers are also available for a higher price, but this one works fine. It consists of a prism, a focusing eyepiece, and a plate over the prism that smooths the liquid across the prism. The reading goes up to 32 on the Brix scale, which is plenty for agricultural use.
They can be pricey. I bought mine for around 90 bucks. If you find a source for a similar refractometer at a lower price, please let me know. For me, I think it was worth the investment.
The liquid extracted from the plant is dropped onto the prism and the plate is shut, making sure the liquid covers the entire area of the prism. You then point the plate towards the sun and look through the eyepiece..you’ll see something like this, but with more numbers.
You then read the number where the two colors meet and that’s your Brix reading! Nothing to it, right? Note it down in you garden journal,clean of the prism off with a soft, damp cloth and your done!
The Blurry Line
When you are looking thru the analogy refractometer, you will notice the top white area and the bottom black area, where the two meet. Follow that line to your bix numbers. Thats the brix level. If it is a clear distint line between the two or if it is a blurry line (blurry/fuzzy/diffused) on your screen (the line between the white and black), a blurry line is an indication an excellent range of minerals ( the higher the brix level, the higher the mineral levels, the more defussed the line, the greater the range of minerals available). Many farmers that grow forages for animals also have access to both refractometers and standard lab tests, are adamant in insisting that a sharp demarcation line is an indication of increased simple sugar along with lesser high-quality protein and less vitamins and less minerals as well. A blurry/fuzzy line however indicates more, and better quality, proteins.
The fuzzy line concept is supported by astronomers and the way they use refracted light to determine the elemental makeup of distant stars. Starlight, properly refracted, is spread out so that the lines ( different color for dif elements) left by various elements can be identified. It is suggested that you think of your readings as, say, 18S (sharp) or perhaps 18D (diffuse). Even tho they both have the same Brix level, the one with the blurry line, tastes better.
Extracting the sap or juice
The difficult part is actually getting the sap out of the plant. Try as you may using household devices, there’s no substitute for a sap press (expensive) or a garlic press like the ones sold at GrowOrganic (not so expensive). You can go like I did and buy a mortar and pestle Even with these tools it takes practice. Practice with weeds until you get the sap squeezing thing down so you don’t defoliate all the plants in your garden.
Here is an example.. pick what works best for you....
Fresco Granite Mortar and Pestle, Black, Small
• The Brix number is an important indicator as to what is happening to the plant and how your effrots are working on it, plus the Brix reading is important as how it compares to the previous Brix level.
• Be Consistent! Make sure you take from the same plant parts each time or you may get different readings. If you take a sample from the lower leaves, always take a sample from the lower leaves. If you take a sample from stems near the top, always take from there. If you take from the flower then make sure it from the same. keep track of the plant you sample from. My own personal use, I sample only once if I have a suspicion that there is something wrong. Then if there is, thats to say that the Brizx level is low, I would then either decide that the plant is bad gene and remove it and dont waste any more effort or decide if it just needs more attention. In which case I would take a small sample once a week while I was working on it. It is important not to destroy the plant while you are taking samples.
• It’s helpful to graph out your results. It’s also fun. Take your seasonal or multi year data and graph your improvement over time. You’ll also start to make connections on what causes jumps in Brix readings.
• Be sure to clean and follow all the calibration instructions that come with your refractometer before using it!
wash well before and after every use.
Try cutting a very thin slice (1/16" to lay on the prism---like you would a microscope)
Crush a leaf and lay that on the prism
mash the food in a mortar and pistle and squeeze the result onto the prism
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