Brix Levels For Grasshopper Control

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2023: $6,968.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2025
Grant Recipient: Hiddendale Farm
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Glendon Philbrick
Hiddendale Farm

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: foliar feeding, nutrient management, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: display, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Pest Management: biological control, competition, prevention
  • Production Systems: dryland farming, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: public participation, sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    Grasshoppers have plagued North America many times.  Most recently, grasshoppers have caused considerable damage in the Northern Great Plains in North Dakota and Montana since the drought of 2020 and 2021.  Despite normal rainfall in 2022 in many areas, the grasshoppers are thriving. Through observation and testing with a refractometer, one can assess that grasshoppers dislike and avoid plants with high brix levels.  This project aims to test methods for raising brix levels to a minimum of 12%  in several crops, including commodity crops, vegetables, and flowers, through various methods as a means to, not only stop grasshoppers from destroying crops, but to also improve soil health.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    In an organic field, the following crops which have been plagued by grasshoppers at the growing site will be grown to test:

    Alfalfa, oats, sweet corn, pop corn, heirloom tomato, two varieties of romaine lettuce, Danvers Half Long carrots, Carmen Sweet Pepper, borage, phacelia, safflower, soybean, Black Turtle Bean, spinach, onions, potatoes, cilantro, and hops.

    The alfalfa, soybeans, and oats will be in a 32x32 foot plots with alleys to replicate a field trial.  The vegetables and flowers will be grown in square plots in organic approved plastic cover for weed suppression.  The plastic mulch will be applied at minimum three weeks prior to planting, preferably six weeks, depending on spring weather.  The square plots are to avoid creepage of other crops.

    Five treatments will be used separately on each crop. The treatments include: Increasing the potassium to nitrogen ratio to a desired level according to soil health recommendation guidelines, applying humic and fulvic acids, applying amino acids, treating iron deficiencies, and treating calcium deficiencies through application of plant available calcium.  The goal of each treatment is to achieve a 12% brix level.  Through experience and discussion with researchers, 12% is the level at which insects find a plant undesirable. 

    Numbered flags will separate and identify each treatment.  All treatments must be OMRI listed per USDA organic certification standards. Soil amendments will be applied after soil tests are conducted but prior to planting. The other three treatments will be applied after emergence, and again during the onsought of grasshoppers.  Foliar treatments will be applied again after significant rain or if irrigation washed the treatment off.  Brix will be tested after two weeks of plant growth for each treatment, and then once a week thereafter.  Data will be recorded and plants will be photographed.  Grasshopper damaged will be photographed and recorded throughout the season in an effort to compare brix levels to treatment outcome. Each crop will have a section with no treatment.

    The experiment will be done over one growing season.


    1. Evaluate growth and brix levels in plants were the potassium to nitrogen levels are at recommended levels.
    2. Evaluate growth and brix levels in plants were humic and fulvic acids are applied.
    3. Evaluate growth and brix levels in plants were amino acids are applied.
    4. Evaluate growth and brix levels in plants were iron deficiencies are treated according to crop needs per soil test results.
    5. Evaluate growth and brix levels in plants were available calcium is applied.
    6. Evaluate grasshopper damage in each treatment area by brix level.
    7. Hold a field day later in the growing season
    8. Share results through Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society (NPSAS), Organic Seed Alliance (OSA), the Organic Broadcaster, and farm website.
    9. Contact Marbleseed, NPSAS, OSA, and EcoFarm regarding conference presentation opportunities.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.