Sweetener of the Millennium
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 Stevia Cultivation Continue....  

 

Raised bed preparation

Forming raised beds is the most economical way to grow Stevia. The raised bed should be of 15 cm in height and 60 cm in width. The distance between each plant 23 cm. This would give a plant population of around 30,000 per acre. 

Planting

Stevia can be planted in many ways. The types of agronomic practices generally depend on type of soil and climate conditions. Generally it is advisable to plant minimum of 40,000 plants per acre. Since the economical part is the leaves it is very important to achieve highest vegetative growth.

Planting Material

There are basically two options for multiplication. The first is the tissue culture and second the stem cutting. Tissue culture is the best option but many farmers are tempted to try the stem cutting method for multiplication. As per practical experience, stem cutting is sometimes more expensive to produce than the tissue culture since the success rat e of the stem cuttings establishment is very low, it takes minimum of 25 weeks for the stem cutting to develop in proper feeding roots for transplantation (younger stem cuttings transplants have shown more than 50% mortality in first few weeks of transplants in main field). It is also noticed that Stevioside content of the stem cutting plants is lower by at least cutting plants is lower by at least 2% points in Indian conditions. 

Plant Varieties

There are about 90 varieties of stevia rebaudiana developed all around the world. Basically all these varieties have been developed for different climate requirements, many times these varieties perform strangely in different climate conditions. At the end of the day, just like sugarcane, it is the stevioside and rebaudioside content in the Stevia leaves that determine the price and marketability of Stevia leaves. In many causes in south India it was observes that stevioside content was as low as 3.5%, which was below the minimum market requirement of 9%. Hence it becomes imperative that the grower selects proper varieties with adequate guarantees from the planting material suppliers about minimum assured stevioside and rebaudioside contents.

Irrigation

Stevia requires ample supply of good water all year around. As the plant cannot tolerate drought, frequent irrigation is required Micro sprinklers are the best method of irrigation would not supply the required amount of water at the right time.  

So through micro sprinklers, the water can be sprinklers, the water can be sprinkled once in a day in winter and two to four times in a day in summer depending upon the heat and relative humidity in the air. Watering frequency should be scheduled so that the plants do no wilt for want of water. 

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