Growing Stevia for Market

November 2010 — Stevia rebaudiana is a natural, low-glycemic, low-calorie alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners. It’s also a promising crop suited to a wide variety of climates and soils


Growing Stevia For Market is your complete guide to growing, harvesting, and marketing stevia leaves and bedding plants. Valuable information is compiled from growers, research trials, and the author’s own experience. Includes stevia leaf buyers, sellers, and other resources. Illustrated with 40+ grayscale photos.


Learn about:

  • How day length affects stevia leaf yields.
  • Propagating from seeds, cuttings, or divisions.
  • Field preparation and plant spacing.
  • Irrigation, pruning, and pests.
  • Yield, income, and expense estimates.
  • Harvesting, drying, and marketing stevia.


Author Jeffrey Goettemoeller has been growing and studying stevia for over a decade. In college, he completed a published research study on the production of Stevia seeds. Jeffrey is also the author of Stevia Sweet Recipes: Sugar-free—Naturally!, with over 300,000 copies in print, and Growing and Using Stevia: The Sweet Leaf from Garden to Table with 35 Recipes.


Growing Stevia for Market is available from,, or Prairie Oak Publishing


From the Book Preface

Governments around the world are approving stevia for wider use in food and beverage products. In the United States, sales of stevia leaves, extracts, and powdered leaf have long been allowed under the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).[1] More recently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved certain stevia extracts for use as food additives. Elsewhere, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have issued positive opinions on the safety of glycosides from stevia for use as food additives.[2] This could lead to widespread approval in the European Union. Clearly, the time for expanded stevia production has arrived.

Stevia rebaudiana thrives in a wide variety of climates and soils. It can be a perennial crop in some climates or an annual crop where winters are cold. However, the cultivation of stevia is fairly new.[3] We’ve only begun to optimize procedures for commercial production. There is great potential for improvement in stevia yield, quality, and profits. This book provides a head start for academic and on-farm experimentation. Best practices for stevia cultivation are suggested based on research studies from around the world as well as the author’s own experience of growing and using stevia for over a decade. Growing Stevia for Market will help farmers, researchers, market gardeners, nurseries, and greenhouse operators succeed with stevia.

[1] See Rob McCaleb, “Controversial Products in the Natural Foods Market,” The Herb Research Foundation: Herb Information Greenpaper, 1997. (accessed 7-29-2010).

[2] See Elaine Watson, “EFSA opinion paves way for EU approval of stevia-based sweeteners,”, April 14, 2010. 

[3] For a succinct history of stevia use and cultivation, see W.H. Lewis, “Early uses of Stevia rebaudiana (Asteraceae) leaves as a sweetener inParaguay,” Economic Botany 46 (1992): 336–337.



Book Contents

List of Figures – vi

Acknowledgements – viii

Preface – ix

Introduction – 1

1. Climate and Day Length – 7

Plant Hardiness Zones – 7

Perennial or Annual Production – 8

Choosing a Stevia Field Production Cycle – 11

Perennial Production with Winter Dormancy – 11

Photoperiod and Leaf Yield – 15

Sunshine and Glycoside Content – 16

Stevia’s Critical Day Length for Blossoming – 17

Determining Day Length – 19

Field Transplant Timing Above 15° Latitude – 21

Field Harvest Timing Above 15° Latitude – 24

Field Transplant Timing Below 15° Latitude – 27

Field Harvest Timing Below 15° Latitude – 28

2. Plant Propagation – 33

Choosing a Propagation Method – 33

Growing Media – 38

Starting Stevia from Seed – 39

Propagating Stevia from Stem Cuttings – 44

Propagating Stevia with Crown Divisions – 53

Breeding through Selection – 54

3. Field Preparation and Plant Care – 57

Field Location – 57

Soils and Fertilization – 58

Field Tillage – 65

Irrigation – 68

Mulching – 70

Weed Control – 77

Row Covers – 78

Plant Pruning – 82

Nutrient Deficiencies and Toxicities – 85

Pests and Diseases – 86

4. Field Planting – 93

Planting Density – 93

Transplanting to the Field – 100

5. Harvesting and Postharvest – 103

Cutting and Gathering – 104

Drying Stevia Leaves – 110

Separating Leaves from Stems – 116

Leaf Storage and Shipping – 121

6. Marketing and Economics – 123

Enterprise Budgeting – 124

Selling Dried Leaves Wholesale – 125

Dry Leaf Yields from SmallScale Trials – 130

Dry Leaf Yields from LargeScale Trials – 131

Selling Dried Leaves Retail – 132

Selling Stevia Plants – 133

Fresh Stevia Leaves – 136

OnFarm Processing – 138

Appendix 1: Field Trial Summaries – 141

Appendix 2: Stevia Leaf Buyers – 167

Appendix 3: Selected Resources – 169

Glossary – 179

Bibliography – 187

Index – 193

About the Author – 205