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Collecting BRIX reading before extraction


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So I've started my first extractions with measurable results and my theory on BRIX correlation with mescaline content seems viable however also swayed since I don't have enough data. I'll need to repeat extractions in the future with the same cacti at different BRIX levels to have more useful information. BRIX is used to measure maturity in some plants.

I've measured my cacti seedlings at 1 year of age and recorded the brix levels of each. I suspected that the higher the brix levels (without directly trying to increase it) would have higher content. I separated The 3 highest recorded bridgesii each over 4 'which is still low' with the highest at 4.8 and a single pachanoi recorded 3.5 which looks like a peruvianus/cuzco now.

There are many different factors the influence BRIX like watering, fertilizing and temperature. But if you could record the brix level before your extraction so I could collect more info quickly.

So I got around to extracting the bridgesii with the highest brix and it tested even higher at 5.2 Brix this time. The mescaline citrate came to 600mg around 4% estimating dry weight at 15g with higher possible since I didn't do multiple pulls due to some issues. The seedling is around 2.5 years old used 18inches which weighted 440 grams wet. It was still fairly thin and had ZERO bitterness to the tongue. This was my fastest and largest grower in my collection and I attribute it to the high BRIX despite it being in the same growing conditions of all my other cacti.

Now the pachanoi that tested 3.5 brix in the past now tested .5 brix. I also tested a semi-hydroponically grown pachanoi that in the past tested at 3 and now tested at 1 brix. The 3.5 very spiny pachanoi was also low bitterness and measured at 12 inches. The weight was at 480g and was much thicker with much more white flesh and core material. The semi-hydroponic pachanoi was bitter but not extreme and was also cut at 12 inches. The weight was 530g fresh and about the same thickness as the other pachanoi. The 3.5 brix pachanoi (.5 brix now) tested at around 280mg around 2% estimating dry weight at 13.5 and the other semi-hydroponic pachanoi tested around 240mg around 1.8% estimating dry at 13.5g

Looking at these brix levels there is little correlation since lowest brix .5 pachanoi tested higher content than the other at 1 brix however in the past it did test differently. Next year I'll be re-extracting these same clones at different brix levels to see if the content is different. Age may play an influence but hopefully I'll also be able have a few clones of the bridgesii and test different levels as well.

If people with the same clones SS02 or which ever all tested brix levels before extractions and sharing the results of content it would be helpful. If you have any thoughts even if just to say I'm wrong and saying brix has zero correlation with content.

I intend on following this project on my own but with a collective database it would help to more quickly know if this is worth pursuing or not. Regardless I am going to use brix measurement as a means of selecting seedlings since all the high BRIX seedlings grew much better than the other seedlings in the exact same conditions. I haven't attempted to increase brix levels other than testing after a drought period which actually lead to lower BRIX which was the opposite of what I expected.
BRIX is simply a measure of total dissolved solids - for cactus much of this is mucilage. Some cactus are super slimy, others are not, even in the same species. If you intend to ferment cactus juice, it would certainly be a good indicator of total polysaccharide concentration.

Van Der Sypt provides an excellent method to accurately estimate alkaloid concentration on a micro scale in this article. There are other threads on here discussing his methods in detail (and variations). TLC is a reliable method for estimating alkaloid concentration; a reasonable estimate can be achieved with a minimal sample size and using very common solvents i.e. alcohol & ammonia.

Perhaps if you test many samples you will learn whether or not there is a significant correlation between brix and alk content. Since you're working with seedlings, it seems the Van Der Sypt method would be a good way to test your hypothesis.
This has got me thinking because I’ve been wanting to ferment cactus tea for a while but never got around to it. What form are the polysaccharides in cactus?
Slime has an influence on BRIX? Strangely the highest brix had lowest slime content and the semi-hydroponic cacti had lots of slime and low brix. Still very limited data so everything is just speculation.

This is just an idea but I did see in other plants that higher BRIX readings WITHOUT trying to influence the reading had a correlation with higher alkaloid and secondary metabolites. Also wondering if we can have a means of gauging the "maturity" of the cactus via BRIX. Low brix meaning lower content in that instance while higher content it is 'mature' so to speak.

I remember the Van Der Sypt paper but that is outside my scope despite how simplified it is. Great paper.

This isn't to say a cactus with a brix higher than another has more content just that the higher brix means more content within that cactus ability. Lets say TBM with a range of 1-6% content I'd suspect that at 6% the BRIX would be higher end than when the content is around 1%.
OK, so I compared the Portuguese wiki with the English one, since I was suspicious of how well Brix refractometry might perform with the special case of cacti. It's clear that specimens with high salinity will show anomalously high °Bx:
If the solution contains dissolved solids other than pure sucrose, then the °Bx only approximates the dissolved solid content. For example, when one adds equal amounts of salt and sugar to equal amounts of water, the degrees of refraction (BRIX) of the salt solution rises faster than the sugar solution.
It seems to me, therefore, that this measure will be of limited use in cacti. Is there much (or any) information on the influence of cactus polysaccharides on °Bx readings, for example?
Yea I'm not super informed on BRIX but am aware it is the sugar content. How much influence BRIX has to secondary alkaloids I'm unaware but from reading papers on different plants and higher BRIX they do report higher content of secondary metabolites vs control. This chart may be oversimplifying the process.

Regardless I have seen in my small sample size of 20 seedlings that the naturally high brix seedlings did grow much faster in comparison to the others in the exact same conditions. I'm not trying to increase BRIX actively by adding sugar or other specialized fertilizers but rather just collecting data to see if there is indeed a correlation or not. Sample size is still small and comparing pachanoi and bridgesii isn't exactly fair so I'll keep collecting more info as time goes by.

Hm, interesting. It makes sense that this metric would act as a "rule of thumb" indication of a plant's general vigour, at least to me.

How exactly do you measure the °Bx of your specimens?

Wishing you much luck with your experiment! (y)
I cut off around .5 inch square flesh and then make many slices on the flesh so the liquid oozes to cover the glass on the refractometer. On some cacti I can barely see the line which I've read is for a few different reasons like high Nitrates or other deficiency like calcium. Other times the line is very clear with plants in the same exact conditions, soil water ext. . I just use that goo that oozes without any modifications and most of the time have no issues.

This idea may be completely off base and have zero correlation. I tested core, flesh and green all have the same brix level so as a direct measure of 'dissolved salts' is not viable but maybe as a maturity gauge or something. Just an extra data point that I'll be collecting going forward.
Perhaps you could get a few water or/and soil test kits, so you could check things like nitrate and other mineral content after doing the refractometry. The more detailed picture might well be helpful.
That would be helpful but everything is more expensive here in Brasil with import taxes
This has got me thinking because I’ve been wanting to ferment cactus tea for a while but never got around to it. What form are the polysaccharides in cactus?
from the 'Cactus Analysis' thread on the old nexus:

Cactus slime (mucilage) = Arabinose, galactose, galacturonic acid, rhamnose, xylose ) (Trout)

Perhaps some pectic / amylase enzymes would help break them down into smaller sugars to improve fermentability.

Hm, interesting. It makes sense that this metric would act as a "rule of thumb" indication of a plant's general vigour, at least to me.

How exactly do you measure the °Bx of your specimens?

Wishing you much luck with your experiment! (y)

I'm curious if other environmental factors may influence the brix beyond general health / vigor - i.e. dormancy vs. active growth, direct sun vs. partial shade etc. I remember reading somewhere that as temperatures drop in the fall, they are able to enhance frost protection - perhaps they increase production of specific 'antifreeze' polysaccharides
One thing I will add is that the occasional cactus brew can be distinctly salty. One report sticks in my mind where the combination of bitter, earthy, salty and slimy was contrasted with the wonderful effects of the potent brew being "god's way of saying sorry" ;)
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