BELLINGHAM, WASH. — Sweet Green Fields, a global producer of stevia extracts, will expand its crop production through plantings in Georgia and North Carolina. In Georgia, Sweet Green Fields already is transplanting this year’s crop. In North Carolina, planting should start in the coming weeks.

“We are investing heavily in our American-grown crops and linking our advanced agriculture practices with our industry leading plant research in order to create stevia products that are competitive on a global level while being grown right in our own backyard,” said Hal Teegarden, vice-president of agricultural operations for Bellingham-based Sweet Green Fields.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are supporting the stevia crop plantings.

“With the ideal soil and climate conditions in Georgia, Sweet Green Fields has seen the potential for stevia to prosper as a new crop in the rotational system,” said Gary W. Black, Georgia agriculture commissioner. “We welcome their expansion here and look forward to working with them throughout the seasons to come.”

Stevia extracts are natural, zero-calorie, high-intensity sweeteners that may be used in food and beverage formulations. The stevia industry already grows plants on other continents, including Asia, South America and Africa.