Steps for Cultivating Stevia Plants

Stevia is a sweetener plant that is often used as cane sugar. The sweetener from this plant is claimed to be healthier because of its lower calorie content.




This plant has been popular for a long time in several developed countries, such as Korea and Japan. Stevia market abroad is quite high. Therefore, stevia cultivation can be a potential business opportunity.


Stevia can be propagated by seed, cuttings, and tissue culture. When using seeds to propagate plants, choose black seeds as these seeds have a higher germination rate. Most seeds germinate after 4-6 days at 25 °C.


However, the most common propagation of stevia is done by shoot cuttings and side shoot cuttings. Seedlings resulting from vegetative propagation are more uniform.


Sowing should be done in the center of the planned location for planting stevia to make transporting seeds closer and easier. Stock plants or parent sources of cuttings that are considered superior are planted in beds that are used as a source of cuttings supply. One stock plant can produce 4-20 cuttings, depending on age. Cuttings are more effectively propagated in multitray containers.


After three weeks, the cuttings have formed good roots with shoots 10 cm high and 2-3 pairs of new leaves. Cuttings are ready to be planted in the field.


Land that is ex-secondary forest or has not been used for a long time needs to be processed first by cutting down trees and opening embankments and shrubs. Stevia generally grows in the highlands. In Indonesia, this plant is usually planted in hilly areas so it needs to be made terracing first.


The soil needs to be plowed with a tractor or using a hoe. The soil is plowed at least once and once harrowed or hoeed to a depth of 25 cm to obtain loose soil. After that, apply 10-20 tons of manure per hectare and SP-36 basic fertilizer of 100 kg per hectare. If possible, use layer chicken manure as it has a higher nutritional content.


Bed


The beds are made about 15-20 cm high, 100-150 cm wide, and 10 m long or adjusted to land conditions. The distance between beds is about 50 cm to make it easier for workers to move. The beds are covered with plastic mulch to suppress weed growth. In the mulch, holes were made using a zinc can with a diameter of 3 cm and filled with coal.


In addition to plastic mulch, you can also use organic mulch such as rice straw, leaf litter, sugarcane leaves, sago leaves, or other organic materials. Mulch should be set so that it can last for 3-4 months.


Planting


The spacing used to plant stevia is 25 cm × 25 cm with a population of 90,000 plants per day. The higher the plant density, the higher the total leaf biomass, but the higher the humidity conditions, the higher the plant susceptible to disease.


Planting is done in the morning, afternoon, or when the weather is cloudy. After planting, provide watering to prevent seedlings from wilting and root union with the soil. New plants begin to form leaves after the age of 1 week after planting.

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