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Homegrown: Sweet Green Fields to expand stevia crop in North Carolina and Georgia

By Elaine WATSON , 21-Dec-2012
Last updated on 21-Dec-2012 at 03:46 GMT

Sweet Green Fields (SGF) plans to significantly expand its stevia crop in Georgia and North Carolina in 2013 in a bid to bolster supplies of American-grown stevia extracts.

The firm, which also grows stevia in California, as well as other parts of the world, said it was extremely pleased with the performance of the 2012 crop from the two states.

It added: “Based on the crop’s performance during the 2012 growing season, along with the support Sweet Green Fields has received following its introduction to the region, the company is committed to expanding its grower base [in the region].”

“With the support of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, along with the Colleges of Agriculture from land grant universities in both states, Sweet Green Fields is committed to supporting economic development in agribusiness communities that have been negatively impacted by a changing crop landscape and reduced opportunities."

Consistently high yields

Hal Teegarden, vice president of agricultural operations, said SGF is achieving consistently high yields, with varieties yielding 80-90% of the desired steviol glycoside content.

“Sweet Green Fields developed and implemented harvest and handling practices that are consistently delivering a 35% increase in leaf yield and a corresponding glycoside yield increase on a per acre basis.”

SGF, which claims to be the only company in the US that can market a 99% purity stevia extract, has developed  a proprietary ‘fast precipitation process’ for extracting the steviol glycoside Reb-A.

The process, which SGF claims is up to 50% faster than standard techniques, delivers ultra-high purity levels using water and ethanol (rather than methanol or wood alcohol).

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