Stevia is a five year plantation crop. The crop is newly introduced in India. It gives regular earning. The first cutting of the green leaves is done after four month of the plantation and later on there will be regular cutting after every 3-4 Months as per climatic condition. The crop is only source of natural sweetener. The stevia is the first choice of the sugar free industry. The sweetener of stevia is widely used in the world. The crop is planted for five years. After the fifth year the marginal return start to decline so it is best to uproot crop and replant it. Stevia cultivation in India is having bright future.
Stevia grows well in sandy loam soils with an ample supply of water. stevia prefers acidic to neutral soil with a PH range of 6.5-7.5 for its best growth. Saline soils should be avoided as stevia plant is susceptible to water logged conditions.
Stevia is a semi-humid, subtropical plant and can grow in the temperature ranges between 04-48o C. An annual average temperature of 31o C with a rainfall of 140 cm per year has been found optimum for its good growth. It shows good seed germination when subjected to light and warm conditions. Hence, a long growing season, minimal frost, high light intensities and warm temperature favors higher leaf production. Stevia is a short day plant, but the concentration of stevioside in the leaves increases when the plants are grown under long day conditions. The day temperatures should not exceed 48 oC and the night temperatures should not fall below 04 o C.
STEVIA CULTIVATION PROPAGATION
Stevia plants can be propagated from cuttings or seeds or by tissue culture. As the seed germination is very poor and seedlings are very slow to establish, it is generally propagated clonally through cuttings. For vegetative propagation, stem cuttings of 15 cm length taken from leaf axils of the current year’s growth have been given better results. Treatment with Paclobutrazol @ 100ppm has been found to induce the root initiation in short time and IBA@500 ppm is also found to be effective. The best months for propagation are February-March. The cuttings will be ready for transplanting after 25-30 days of rooting
Transplants from cuttings would be superior; however, cost makes it prohibitive. Stevia must be propagated from seed in plug trays placed in a greenhouse for a period of 7 to 8 weeks.
Depending on different climatic conditions, Stevia is cultivable throughout the year except for times when it is extremely hot or cold. Stevia plug plants are planted into the field on 75 cm bed with row spacing of 45 cm at 45 cm height with a total plant density in the order of 30,000 plants per Acre.
The stevia plant appears to have low nutrient requirements; however a soil test should be conducted. Good organic manure must be applied time to time
Stevia crop also requires hand hoeing and weeding. After every 2 months there must be weeding. regualr weedign must be done in stevia cultivation.
Insect pest pressures other than cutworm are minimal. Septoria disease can cause considerable damage to the Stevia crop. Animals seem to like the sweet taste of Stevia, too. Application on neem based product will manage the disease and pests.
Time of harvesting depends on land variety and growing season. Generally, it can be scheduled when plants are 40-60 centimeters in height. Shorter days induce flowering. Optimum yield (biomass) and stevioside quality and quantity is best just prior to flowering. The plant will tolerate very low temperatures.
|STEVIA LEAVES DRYING|
Immediately following drying, a specially designed thresher/separator is necessary to separate dry Stevia leaves from its stem.