FIVE POINTS, Calif. -- S&W Seed Company today announced that it has entered into a trialing agreement with PureCircle, the world's largest producer of stevia sweeteners, to conduct stevia growing trials.

Operating under this agreement, S&W's agronomists have received proprietary plant materials from PureCircle and have started cultivation of stevia plants. The trials are anticipated to identify the best yielding varieties to begin commercial production of stevia leaf in California in the near future. S&W Seed Company and PureCircle have also agreed to work together on advanced variety selections from PureCircle's stevia breeding programs around the world.

"We are delighted to be associated with the world leader in stevia leaf processing as we pursue our goal of introducing large scale production of stevia leaf in California," said Grover Wickersham, chairman of S&W Seed Company. "We believe our thirty year history of producing agricultural products in California, coupled with our stevia-experienced agronomists, will qualify us to meet PureCircle's needs for a domestic supply of stevia."

Dorn Wenninger, PureCircle's corporate vice president of supply chain, remarked, "PureCircle is leading the global diversification of Stevia leaf farming. We're committed to sourcing stevia in areas as close to our customers as possible. Our agronomists are sharing best practices from our operations in Asia, Africa, and South America with S&W Seed Company as we work together to provide large scale volumes of Stevia leaf for American consumers."

S&W Seed Company, founded in 1980, is a leader in warm climate alfalfa seed varieties, including varieties that can thrive on poor, saline (salty) soils. In fiscal 2010, the company launched a pilot program to produce stevia leaf, the source of an all-natural, non-caloric sweetener. S&W is headquartered on its wholly owned 40-acre alfalfa seed cleaning and processing facility in Five Points, Calif.

PureCircle is the global leader in the production of all natural, high purity stevia products. In addition PureCircle is leading the industry with the development of a strong sustainable supply chain. Stevia is now being grown for PureCircle in 15 countries across the Americas, Africa, and Asia, providing a sustainable cash crop for rural farming communities in each region. PureCircle's USA headquarters are in Oakbrook, Ill.

SOURCE: S&W Seed Co.