S&W Seed Company announced it has leased 156 acres of farmland near Los Banos, California, located in the heart of California's Central Valley. After refining the details of its planting program, the company has decided to dedicate all 156 acres to stevia production. Although S&W had said it planned to plant between 80 to 150 acres, the company decided to plant above the high end of its previously announced acreage range because the successful propagation of several million plants in the company's greenhouse program made the increase feasible.
The company's newly leased farmland has been tilled and pre-irrigated in anticipation of planting, and has excellent soil conditions for growing stevia with access to ample water. It is approximately 20 miles from the company's first commercial field in Chowchilla, California. The company will plant what it believes are improved stevia varieties. The company anticipates that initial planting on this second generation field will begin in the next 45 days.
Mark Grewal, chief executive officer of S&W Seed Company, commented, "We are accelerating our stevia program. The decision to plant approximately 156 acres of stevia more than doubles our current stevia acreage. We can meet the high end of our previous estimates due to the success we have had in replicating high quality stevia germplasm that will be utilized for planting. We expect to harvest stevia from this land for the four-year term of the lease. The initial investments being made today should provide a long-term payback as we obtain the traits and yields that we expect."
S&W is currently growing 114 acres of stevia in Chowchilla, California. The company conducted its initial test harvest last year and the company anticipates executing its second harvest on its first generation land during the summer of 2012.
Mr. Grewal continued, "With our first generation stevia field currently growing, our second generation field preparing to be planted, and our plant breeding team working towards developing plants with exceptional yields and characteristics, we are well on our way to becoming a leader in stevia leaf production."