Popular No Calorie Sweetener Being Grown in the Carolinas

Popular No Calorie Sweetener Being Grown in the Carolinas

The alternative, no calorie sweetener, Stevia has been under cultivation in North Carolina since 2011 on private lands as well as research plots.   Molly Hamilton, Extension Assistant in the Department of Crop Science with NC State:

“It is winter hearty, but we had a really hard winter this year and there was a lot of kill in the fields. We are looking at what temperatures it can tolerate and what types of soil it is best grown in. We are expecting that this crop will be harvested for 3-5 years. The growth comes on in the spring and its harvested 1-2 times in the summer then it dies in the winter and resprouts in the spring.”

Stevia is a perennial, and like many specialty crops in the southeast, Stevia is currently grown under contract explains Hamilton:

“There is a buyer of the Stevia who contracts in NC and GA. They have done some of the harvesting and are working with farmers. They provide the seed stock and the transplants. The crop is harvested and dried in peanut trailers.”

On August 19th, there will be workshop near Kinston on growing Stevia as an alternative crop.  Hamilton outlines some of the topics:

“We will be covering some basics on how it can be grown in NC. As well as disease management. The VP of the buyer will be there to discuss their market, the harvesting and other issues.”

The workshop gets underway at 10:00 am at the Caswell Research Farm near Kinston.




A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.