Ginseng doesn't come up every year. That's why I scoff at the \"experts\" that say it is becoming extinct. I ginseng in an area that has been ginsenged by relatives for nearly 80 years. It still comes up. Strip mining is the only thing that totally kills it out of an area. Even logging doesn't destroy it. It takes about 10 years after an area has been logged for it to come back. When it does, there is some big seng. Some rough dang woods to get through, but it's worth it. That being said, we still need to follow all the laws and do everything we can to ensure it remains for future generations.
Dormancy or snails eating them, which ever it may be, I can account for dozens of times I have experieced this. The older the plant the more often they seem to go dormant for 1 year to possibly as long as 4 years. Young plants those between 1-10 years I havent seen this happen with, or havent noticed it. I visited a spot 2 days ago and several of the 4 prongs where already red berried and yellowing, and will be down within a week or so. Planted over 200 seeds in the surrounding area, and there where many more monsters with a couple of red berries and lots of big fat green ones. Nothing makes me much happier than planting those seeds off those old old plants.
I notice this on certain patches as well. I can't make my mind up if they are dormant or fall to predation early in the season. I have noticed this year that some fours went backwards to threes and threes went to twos. I guess maybe It's due to last year's dry season is the only thing I can come up with.
Hillhopper, I think you may be right on all these points. I believe plants are dormant some years, and also that many get munched on by critters. I also have seen plants regress. I think that a drought could definately cause this, but other changes in environment could also have this effect.
It kind of leaves me to believe that Wild Seng has the ability to withstand the onset of alternaria blight to some degree. I wonder how plants derived from cultivated ginseng seeds would do in the same environment under the same circumstances?