Cultivation of Stevia
Botanical Name: Stevia rebaudiana
For cultivation the plant need specific requirement:
* Monitor light
* Relative humidity
* Air pressure to read the plant requirements.
Stevia is a natural, non-caloric, sweet tasting plant used around the world for its pleasant taste, as well as for its increasingly researched potential for inhibiting fat absorption and lowering blood pressure.
In Brazil Stevia, are used as medicinal teas for treating heartburn and other ailments. More recent medical research has shown promise in treating obesity, high blood pressure, and hyper tension. Stevia has a anegligible effect on blood glucose, even enhancing glucose tolerance. Therefore, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to diabetics and others on carbohydrate controlled diets.
The land should be ploughed initially with a disc plough or harrowed to break down, the clods. Fine tilth of soil is required for Stevia cultivation. 1 to 2 ploughing has to be done after harrowing.
Red soil and sandy loam types are best suitable for the cultivation of yfevia with pH between 6 to 7. Clayey loam soil does not show good results.
Raised Bed Preparation:
Forming raised beds is the best and economical way to grow Stevia. Raised bed of height half feet and width half feet is required. The distance between the 2 rows in bed is one feet. The distance between each plant in a row is half feet. With such a spacing the plant population is around 50,000 plants per ‘acre.
Microsprinkler is the best method of irrigating Stevia plants. Flood or canal irrigation would not supply the required amount of water at the right time. Micro sprinklers, can be used to sprinkle the water once in a day in winter and 4 times in a day in summer or more depending upon the heat and relative humidity in the air; Watering frequency should be scheduled so that the plants do not wilt for want of water. ‘..’..
Organic Application and Plant Protection :
There is no such pest and disease incidence in this crop. In case any disease symptoms are noticed, spraying of neem oil diluted in water is the best organic method. For root grubs use castor oil mixed with cow manure and spray very little near the plant.
Removal of weeds can be done manually. Since the crop is grown in raised beds, Intercultural operations are easier by manual labour.
Flowering of the plant should be avoided. Since Steria has a significant apical dominance, the plant tends to grow tall and tanky. Pinching of the apical bud would enhance bushy growth of the plant with side branches. With good management the perennial plant can be maintained economically for 375 years.
Harvesting of the leaves is done by plucking the leaves. If required in a small quantity. The entire plant with the side branches is cut leaving 10-15 cm from the basa.