Cultivation of Stevia plant: Complete guide on Stevia plant farming involves in seed treatment, Planting, Pest control, irrigation, harvesting, yield and uses.
Scientific name of Stevia rebaudiana Compositae:
Stevia is a sweetener and sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana. The active compounds of stevia are steviol glycosides, which have up to 150 times the sweetness of sugar.
Stevia leaves & Flowers
The most economic parts of the stevia plants are there leaves. they are rich in sweetness.
The constituents present in leaves – Stevioside (3-10 %), Rebaudiside-A (13 %), Rebaudiside-B and C
Uses of the stevia leaves are they were calorie free sweetner, sugar substitute for diabetic patients
Soil and Climate:
To cultivate stevia there should be proper soil and climatic conditions. Stevia grows well in sandy loam soils with an ample supply of water. Soil should be acidic with a pH range of 6.5-7.5 for its best growth.
Coming to climate the annual average temperature should be around 31o C with a rainfall of 140 cm . The day temperatures should not exceed 48oC and also night temperatures should not fall below 4oC.
Stevia seeds & Seedlings
The best propagation period for the stevia plant is February- march month. Taken stem about 15 cm from leaf axils to give better results. Once cutting is done, they will be ready for transplanting after 25- 30 days of rooting.
Once collected the rooted cutting plants, to plant spacing of 45X45 cm is required. So for hectare the total density of plants will be around 30,000.
For healthy growth there should proper manuring. It is recommended that for every hectare 27.5:112.5:112.5 kg is needed for higher yields.
In stevia cultivation there should be regular weeding must be done every 2 months.
Weed free Stevia Field
Harvesting of stevia will starts when plants are 40-60 centimeters in height. Shorter days will induce flowering. So Optimum yield and stevioside quality and quantity would be best just prior to flowering.
We can estimate 3-3.5tons/ha of dry green leaves are obtained from every three-four cutting of the year. Stevia is cultivated up to 5 years of period after a one time plantation.
Drying and Threshing:
After harvesting based on weather conditions , it generally takes 24 to 48 hours to dry at 40°C to 50°C. After drying immediately, a specially designed thresher or separator is necessary to separate dry leaves from its stem.
Stevia is used as a dietary supplement and sugar substitute. It has no calories, no carbohydrates, and a zero glycemic index which makes it a great natural alternative to sugar and chemical sweeteners. Stevia is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar.
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