Every year around July i start wondering about is it going to be a good season to dig ginseng. Some years are fantastic and some are not so fantastic, the market is very volatile price-wise. Take this year for example. Prices started out so-so and aren't moving the way alot of folks anticipated. I am trying to develop a method to extend my own digging season beyond the 2-3 week window, as a matter of fact i would like to have the ability to go out into my ginseng patch and locate and dig ginseng only when the market is on a upswing. The way the ginseng market has been established has put the grower/digger at a disadvantage IMO. First you go out into the woods at the beginning of the season, locate and dig your ginseng and then you wait and wait......and wait, you have no idea as to what price you can expect for your crop. But the damage has already been done. You are now committed to accepting whatever the market will offer, even dry ginseng is still perishable, it can only been held for so long. I am working with the idea of using a metal detector and metal \"markers\" placed near ginseng during the hunting season that would allow me to return to the exact plants that i want to dig, if the market was strong. I would also use marker flags in the general location of my metal markers with the exact number of metal markers listed. other options include google earth maps and gps systems. they will get you close, but by placing a metal marker within an inch or so to the right or left of your plant would enable you to dig all the way up until the close of the season. I feel this way, If i cant get a good price for my ginseng this year i would much rather leave it in the ground for another growing season rather than accept a price i am not happy with? What is everyones thoughts about this idea?
K_duce, That is a very interesting concept. It seems like a very good idea, the only problem that comes to mind is the metal contaminating the soil. I dont know if that would be a issue or not its just the first thing i thought of. Google earth is another great tool, I have never used it to mark my plants but i use it to find a location to dig. Being able to set the time of day and see the suns shadow is really handy finding those deep cool hollers.
Not so concerned with metal contamination, that is a temporary marking idea, and the reason for noting exactly how many markers are in the area on the flags. The markers would only be out there about 90 days or so. I suppose that I could use something like metal washers dipped in a liquid rubberized coating like you buy for tools or some other way to coat the metal to avoid the issue altogether. I am just wanting to find ideas to keep my ginseng in the ground undisturbed until the market peaks, and then if the prices dont suit me. I can let it ride so to speak. I would like to mark the plants in a way that is not obvious to someone that may be trespassing on my property.
I think the combo of GPS and Metal Detector with metal markers would work well to mark them, but it would be somewhat of a pain to do that, and then have to return to the location later on if the market does what you want it to.
If you marked them and the market did not rise to meet your sell price, suppose you could just leave your markers in place and could locate them the next season if the market does what you want and well if some joker does not dig them before you get back to them.
Some of the places I hunt, are quite remote and walking in there one time is quite a task, making another trip would double that task.
It can also be quite difficult to locate a seng root (at times) if the top is not attached. I have had the top break off on me on some of those late fall plants and then dug a hole as big as a basketball and could not find the root anywhere.
If you marked plants in the summer or fall, and the market was so so until January, Febuary and then zoomed up - well you might be digging a lot of basketball sized holes wondering where in the heck is that root
you bring up some very good points tnhunter, i have been guilty of digging large empty holes myself, i probably should have put this in the growing ginseng thread instead of the hunting ginseng thread. I was thinking about this for ginseng beds as opposed to wild ginseng. my problem is that my bed has now grown to about 13 acres in size and i can put myself anywhere in it in about 10 minutes. As a grower that is not too dependant on my harvest i would like to be able to have an option to wait for good market conditions to dig. This approach may not work well for northern growers that recieve massive amounts of snow or long periods of frozen ground, but as you know here in tennesse we get a good amount of fair days. Once the ginseng is dug and dried there is no going back.
I agree that this is a pretty inovative approach. It certainly might work, and I like it!
The only draw back I see is that when you dig those roots say in mid December, you still have FRESH roots. Now, this might be a good thing in the right market to the right buyer who can handle them fresh. But, typically, you or a buyer will still have to take the time to dry them properly before they can be certified and moved.
Food for thought,
I dug a beautiful 3.2 oz 47 year old root, 3 years ago. I air dried it as usual and kept in in the closet in a shoe box. It looks the same today as it did 3 years ago. So I think if ginseng is stored in a room with no excessive moisture or humidity it will last a fairly long time.
I agree Latt......Last year I got a friend of mine back into ginseg hunting after a 25 year layoff for him, at the end of last year he reached up in a cabinet and got a brown paper sack of seng out he had dug at least 25 years ago and it was in great shape, he actually sold it with last years haul, no problems! Completely dried and stored in a dry area it will keep for a long time;)