Measuring Success – Brix

If you read my last post reviewing the butternut squash competition that illustrated the correlation between brix and nutrient density, you may have wondered where my initial assumption had come from, the grades given by each squash’s refractometer value:

6 - Poor
8 - Average
12 - Good
14 - Excellent

These values didn’t come from me, but rather a lifetime of agricultural research by Dr. Carey Reams. What’s interesting for us though, is what these grades actually mean:

  • Poor – zero to terrible flavor, rots very quickly, very bad nourishment
  • Average – bland to somewhat flavorful, lasts longer in storage but still not very nourishing
  • Good – great flavor, stores a long time without decay and good nutrition
  • Excellent – legendary flavor, dries out long before rotting, superior health through food is now possible

We have already shown how nutrient density relates to brix, but also flavor and storage too? Indeed it does, but I will save those explanations for a later post when we discuss monitoring plant health and the role that insects and disease organisms play. Our goal here is to give you a new tool, the ability to relate your own brix readings to a meaningful measurement of quality.

Following this are the charts that you will need. It was the genius of Dr. Carey Reams that deserves full credit for compiling the original data and then freely giving it away in the early 1970’s. Since then, there have been several updates and additions made by the observations of other agricultural researches. What I’ve done here is created a greater composite chart of all of them together, choosing the highest values available.

The charts use the PAGE method: Poor-Average-Good-Excellent. There is an additional column in there called “Resistant”, I will explain that later, feel free to ignore it for now.

brixchart

In the process of writing this I discovered that I had used Dr. Reams’s original values for my article on the Squash Contest and not the values I have listed here. That was an over-site on my part. So instead of the 6-8-12-14 values I should have used 6-10-14-16. If you go back to that article and look again, you will see that no one had submitted the best possible class of fruits to the contest.

~Sean

2 thoughts on “Measuring Success – Brix

  1. Pingback: Planting Soil Blocks | Blaming Nature

  2. October 18 2019

    Sean, David M Pelly here. I just come across your chart. I must say good work. I first took RBTI ag in the 80s, and I walked around and drove around with a refractometer for many yrs, measuring everything for many yrs after. I found mistakes on the Reams chart. And readings that did not make sense.

    After testing every kind of apple I could get my hands on, I realized that apple readings did not make sense. I realized apples needed to have two types (or varieties) for sweetness: regular and sweet.

    Today, I would add a third one:

    Regular, (MaCintosh for example)
    Medium sweet
    Sweet (Delicious for example)

    I see lots of charts on line and mine was the first one to list two varieties. Rex Harril posted my chart. Steve Westin followed suit with two apple varieties. But his chart falls short.

    Anyone who has made a brix chart and did not list at least two varieties for apples, knows very little about brix. And in my opinion is not qualified to make a brix chart.

    And as you see, I made quite a few changes to the original Reams chart, which I got from Beddoe’s ag book.

    Apricots were another change I made. How I made that discovery was one fall I was in Niagara on the Lake (around 1993 or 4) and a grape grower I was consulting for, had two huge apricot trees behind the house, that were loaded.

    I did LaMotte soil tests on that farm on the grape land and the readings are almost in line with what Dr. Reams stated as ideal. You can say it is perfect soil.

    And he said that every fall after harvest he goes with a wagon load of chicken manure and spreads the manure by hand with a fork around the apricot trees, along with some calcium carbonate lime.

    He told me to take an apricot off the tree and taste it. I did and when I bit into it, I almost lit up like a light bulb. The energy just buzzed through my whole body and I felt like I was electrified. My thinking cleared up to amazing.

    I went and grabbed my refractometer from my truck and measured it and it was 20. I took a few more and measured them and I think the highest one I measured was 22 or 23.

    So that is how I determined that excellent readings for apricots should be at least 20.

    After that I discovered higher excellent readings for other crops.

    Write me when you read this:
    david.pelly at hotmail dot ca

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