I had some larger than normal roots this season that were 8 years or a little older. Had some smaller roots that were 20 to 30 years old. Some of my planted roots were 8 to 10 years without weeding or any type of help other than putting the seed in the ground.Cant tell no difference from wild.I had quite a few that were at least 40.Just wondering ,the large younger roots I dug were for sure wild.I plant back in the same place or don't finish digging if the root is young unless it is larger than normal
some of the smallest roots i dug where some of the oldest . i dont keep any thing small but if its 25 or 30 years old i figure if it was going to make anything it would have already dont know if the soil , location , or geneitics but some roots just never get large no matter how old they get might be better to leave a few of the bigger young plants to reproduce but like most people if i see a big fourprong im going to dig it based on the wisdom that bigger means older
I never go by how many prongs it has, I use to until I was digging a patch one day and noticed at the top of the patch was a couple two prongs so I figured well since those are at the top maybe they produced this patch. I checked them to see how big they were and it was the two biggest and the oldest out of the entire patch. I dont know why but some plants never change they stay 2, 3 or 4 prongs. It just depends on the soil, iv'e noticed when hunting in beech trees alot of the 2 prongs will be 20 years or older. Which alot of them will be smaller roots but if they are that old and still small their not going to get much bigger. Thats about the only time I check 2 prongs when im hunting in beech trees or if I find some growing in a logging road. I found a 2 prong in a logging road one day and the stem on it was real dark and fat so to my surprise that root ended up weighing just over a half ounce. Thats why I always check some of them, just because its a 2 prong doesnt mean its going to be small or to young to dig. Thats what I love about hunting ginseng you always get surprised.
Legally in TN it has to have 3 prongs and producing berries...
But many plants in the 5-7 year range will have 3 prongs and may be producing a few berries but the leaf sets will not be filled out completely yet (some leaf sets only have 3 or 4 leaves - instead of 5).
I do not dig 3 prongs unless all 3 leaf sets have 5 leaves. Leave those smaller ones for years to come.
That normally makes my youngest roots around 8 year old but I get a lot of other 3 prongs that are similar in size (top and root wise) with full leaf sets that are 20-30 or even 40+ years old.
That is just how they grow in the average woods around here. Very rare to find a really big plant or a 4 prong in average woods. But when I hunt steep rocky hillsides (bluffs) around river or creeks... that is when all that changes. I often find big stout 4 prongs in bluff locations that only have 5-7-8 flats on the neck.