Introduction of Ginseng.


Ginseng is a perennial herb that has been used  for medicinal purposes in China and other Asian  countries for centuries.  American ginseng  (Panax quinquefolius) is native to the rich  hardwood forests of Canada and  the eastern  half of the United States, including Kentucky.  Today Kentucky leads the nation in wild ginseng 
production.  While wild American ginseng is  not yet considered endangered, it is protected  by federal and state laws.  Because ginseng  regulations are subject to change, the State  Ginseng Coordinator in the Kentucky Department  of Agriculture (KDA) should be contacted for the  latest laws and restrictions.  Additionally, laws  will vary from state to state; the information in  this profile is pertinent to Kentucky only. Marketing The market for ginseng is well-established;  however, the harvest and sale of  all ginseng is  strictly regulated in Kentucky.  Ginseng harvested in the state can  only be sold through dealers  licensed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  A list of dealers can be obtained from the KDA.  Kentucky is one of 19 states with an approved  ginseng export program.  Ginseng harvested in  Kentucky cannot be transported out-of-state in  any manner unless it is accompanied by an export  certificate obtained from the KDA.  Ginseng for  international trade must also be  accompanied by a pharyngitis certificate from the USDA and a CITES (Convention  on International Trade in Endangered Species)  export certificate obtained from the U.S. Fish  and Wildlife Service.  These regulations are in  place to protect the limited stock of wild ginseng  growing in the forests, and to help eliminate the  theft problems that can occur with this valuable  and very slow-growing plant.  Market Outlook There continues to be a strong market for wild,  wild-simulated, and woods-grown ginseng.  The  strength of the Pacific Rim economy affects  ginseng prices since 85 percent of the ginseng  harvested in the United States is exported to  Hong Kong and will ultimately end up in China.   This market represents the largest consumer base  and is the driving force in the ginseng market. Wild roots have a distinctive appearance and are  in the greatest demand by Asian markets.  The Chinese have an extremely long history of ginseng  use in their traditional medicine.  In addition,  there is a great cultural and  mystical connotation to wild  ginseng among Chinese  consumers.  Prices for wild ginseng sold in open air markets in China can be  as high as $1,500 to $2,000 per pound.  Cultivated ginseng roots have a different 
appearance from those growing wild in the  forest; they are also thought to be less potent  and are, therefore, of less value.  The market  for cultivated ginseng is in value-added  pharmaceutical products.  Most, if not all, of the  manufactured ginseng herbal products are made  using cultivated ginseng.  While there is a steady  market for cultivated ginseng, profitability of  production is marginal at present.  Prices for  cultivated ginseng have declined during the  last decade due to an increase in supply, mainly  from Canadian producers, as well as from the  production of American ginseng in China itself.   A major source of cultivated ginseng in the United  States is Wisconsin, where ginseng is marketed  through the Ginseng & Herb Co-op.  There were 
about 200 farms producing ginseng in 2011 according to the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin. Wild-simulated and woods-grown ginseng roots  most closely approximate those of wild ginseng.   Because of this, they bring a better price than  cultivated roots, although not as high as wild  roots.  Good quality roots grown in woodland sites can bring up to 50 percent of the price of  wild-harvested roots.  Wild-simulated ginseng  can be sold into the export market, but roots must  be accompanied by the appropriate certification  papers. Production Considerations Production methods Kentucky State Law recognizes four production  methods for ginseng: wild, wild-simulated,  woods-grown, and cultivated.  While wild ginseng  grows with little or no human involvement, the  other three methods are technically different  cultivation systems that necessitate human  involvement in some way.  Cultivation is a way  to meet the market demand without endangering  or reducing current native wild populations. Wild ginseng grows naturally in the forest.   Ginseng thrives in deeply shaded woodlands  where the soil is moist, well drained, and high  in organic matter.  Plants require 70 percent to  80 percent shade and are often found growing  under such deeply rooted hardwoods as oak, 
hickory, beech, and walnut.  Other wild plants  generally found in or near ginseng patches  include trillium, Solomon’s seal, rattlesnake  fern, spleenwort, Jack-in-the-pulpit, cohosh, and  wild ginger.  These plants, which require similar  growing conditions, can indicate that ginseng is  growing nearby. Cultivated ginseng plants must  be provided with growing conditions similar to  those present in wild sites.   Wild-simulated ginseng is grown in untilled  soil in a favorable forest location.  This method  requires minimal human intervention.  Little sitepreparation is required other than raking away  the leaf litter down to the topsoil.  Seeds can be  pushed into the soil individually or raked into  the top one inch of soil.  The leaf litter is then raked back over the planting.  Once planted, no  further labor is required until harvest, at which  time plants are hand-dug.   Woods-groWn (also referred to as woodscultivated) ginseng is produced in tilled beds  under the natural shade of hardwood trees.   Site preparation includes clearing away rocks,  understory growth, and undesirable trees.  Wellrotted organic matter may be added to the beds.   Seeds are either broadcast or planted in rows.

Maintenance can include hand weeding, the  continued removal of competing understory  plants,  thinning seedlings, and pesticide  applications. Cultivated (also referred to as field-cultivated)  ginseng is grown in well-tilled raised beds  in an open area.  Artificial shade is  provided by wooden lath houses or black polypropylene shade cloth.  This method  requires an intensive level of management.  Leaves, rotted sawdust, or woodland soil may be added to the beds.  Seeds or roots are planted in furrows and mulch is added immediately after planting.  Maintenance consists of weeding, adding more mulch, fertilizing, and applying pesticides. Seeds and transplants Starting plants from seed is the cheapest and most common way to establish the planting initially.  Plantings can also be started by purchasing one-year-old roots.  While this method is more expensive than starting from seeds, the plants will produce seed one year earlier.  Kentucky state law does not allow for the purchase of Kentucky roots or seed for planting; when purchasing planting material from out-ofstate sources, it is advisable to determine if the state of origin has any applicable restrictions. Seed harvest normally starts by the third or fourth year.  Producers will need to decide whether to  harvest the seed for additional plantings or to remove  flower buds to allow larger root development.  Pest management Some insect pests to anticipate are jumping plant lice, tree crickets, and aphids. Alternaria blight and Phytophthora root and crown rot are the main disease concerns.  Fungicides are routinely  applied to ginseng cultivated under artificial  shade.  Deer and wild turkeys can be problems in some locations.  Rodents (such as voles and mice) can do a great deal of damage, especially in wooded sites.  Weed control, generally by hand, will be necessary in some plantings.  Despite these potential problems, human theft remains the major concern of ginseng producers and harvesters. Harvest The harvest season for ginseng in Kentuckybegins September 1 and ends December
1; ginseng may only be dug during this period, even on the harvester’s own private land.  Fresh or “green” ginseng roots may be sold to dealers starting September 1; dry ginseng may be sold to dealers from September 15 to March 31.  These dates could change in any given year so it is advisable to check with the KDA for verification. Per Kentucky State Law, all ginseng roots, regardless of production method, must be a minimum of 5 years old (plants have 3 or 4 prongs) before they can be harvested.  Prongs are the shoots or branches from the main stalk that bear compound leaves comprised of 3 to 5 leaflets.  Keep in mind, however, that the market generally demands roots that are much older than this 5-year minimum. Wild Wild roots are hand dug and must be at least 5 years old (3 or 4 prongs) before they can be harvested.  Never harvest from plants with unripe (green) berries.  Kentucky state regulations require that seeds adhering to plants dug during the season must be removed and planted within 50 feet of the collection site.  The ripe, bright red berries should be planted ¾ to 1 inch deep using only a finger as a tool.  Good ginseng stewardship  also entails not harvesting all mature plants, but leaving some for the future.



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June 27, 2016 at 6:23 PM

Good sharing. Ginseng is used in traditional and herbal medicine to improve energy levels and concentration. Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer is one of the most well-studied species of ginseng with more than 70 published papers citing its various health promoting benefits. Read more at: