It was not-so-sweet news for Florida citrus growers in August when the U.S. Senate blocked a Sen. Marco Rubio-sponsored bill that would have lowered the Brix level of not-from-concentrate orange juice.
Rubio said that bill — introduced as the Defending Domestic Orange Juice Production Act (S. 4394) — had broad bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives, including companion legislation introduced by 15 U.S. representatives from Florida. The act could have lowered the required Brix level for not-from-concentrate orange juice from 10.5 percent to 10 percent.
While some say that they will continue to work through the process with both the Legislature and the FDA to lower the required Brix, the bill’s defeat leaves many growers reviewing their options as it relates to meeting the standard with their current trees. While a patented Tree Defender’s Individual Protective Cover may not leap to the top of their list, there is evidence that maybe it should.
Two key studies of Brix levels in fruit show that a Tree Defenders IPC can increase Brix levels. The first, conducted by Dr. Fernando Alferez from the University of Florida, showed that IPC-covered trees had a Brix level of approximately 10.9 percent — which is above the Food and Drug Administration standard. Trees without Tree Defenders reported a Brix level of 7.5 percent; significantly lower.
More recently, we received results from a field trial of commercial blackberries studying similar Brix levels. Plants that were grown inside the Tree Defenders were significantly larger and more robust. The Brix levels were similarly significant: Berries from uncovered plants averaged 7 to 8 percent Brix levels. Berries from plants in Tree Defender IPCs averaged 12 to 13 percent Brix levels.
We are very pleased with the results of both of these studies, which show that the use of Tree Defender IPCs not only help keep a tree safe from the harmful effects of pests and disease, it promotes the kind of sustainability all of us in the industry are seeking. We are all striving to make Florida citrus great again.
Needless to say, that would be a sweet deal indeed.
This column is sponsored by Tree Defender, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.
Scott Thompson is co-founder of Tree Defender, Radical Ag-Tech, and Care Planet Technologies. He is a Central Florida native with a background in agribusiness, food manufacturing, and bioscience.