Performance of Stevia (Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni) for morphological and economic traits under different ecologies of Ethiopia
Kassahun, Beemnet Mengesha
Zigene, Zewdinesh Damtew
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Stevia [Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) is a perennial, calorie free natural sweet herb that belongs to the family Asteraceae. Its fresh leaves and leaf extracts are 15-30 and 250-330 times sweeter than common sugar, respectively. Despite its amazing characteristics, the plant has not been evaluated for its performance in morphological and economic traits in different ecologies of Ethiopia. For assessing the adaptability of the plant in different ecologies, data on morphological and chemical traits were collected from four locations for two years and summarized on mean basis. The performance of Stevia varied across the testing locations for all the studied parameters. In the first year, the highest fresh leaf yield of 2332 kg/ha and dry leaf yield 600 kg/ha was recorded at Chencha, and the respective lowest values of 992 and 225 kg were recorded at Awada. In the second year, the respective highest value of 3034 kg and lowest 1891 kg fresh leaf yield/ha was recorded at Wondo Genet and Debre Zeit. Whereas, the highest dry leaf yield of 769Kg/ha was at Awada and lowest yield of 541 kgha at Chencha. The respective percent increase values of 4.5, 14.7 and 45.2% were observed in second year compared to the first year for plant height, fresh leaf yield/ha and dry leaf yield/ha. In the second year, number of branches/plant, fresh leaf yield/plant and dry leaf yield/plant had decreased by 46.74, 99.94 and 34.38%, respectively. The stevioside content varied from 9.07-10.35%, which is within the ranges of world reports. Therefore, Stevia can be cultivated for its intense sweet leaves and stevioside in selected areas of the country.