General you said something concerning the 5 prong that you found being in soft soil.I thought about that and I can go back to the same spot where I found mine and it was in very soft rich soil like you exsplained yours was.I havent been back to that area in 2 years so I may return this season to see what may be there to find.I usaly skip 1 to 3 years between digs in areas according to how the wild seng is producing.
To answer the other question about how big the root was on my 5 prong,to my suprise it was not realy old and neither was the root realy large.The curls where like 12 and the weight was not even 2 ounces.As General said I to have found larger and older 4 prongs both in the tops and weight.
Guys, I have always found that wild ginseng grows best in rich loose soil. There are some plants here close to home in rich loose soil below a big rock self, that I am going to keep a close eye on. It will be fun to see how the plant changes from year to year. I want to take pictures and keep records just for the fun of it. Would be great if one of them would get 5 prongs one year.I can't remember what year it was that I found a 5 pronger but I do remember it was way down by the spring at the bottom of one of the steepest hills around here. Thanks for sharing your photos. What great plants!
Just wanted to add someting to the conversasion. That being that last year I found the biggest plant and root ever. The plant measured alittle over 2ft high with four prongs each leaf cluster measured 12in long by 13in wide the berry steam was 7in high and the root was about 3oz green i'm goin to try and post a pic of it but I have never done that so im not sure how successful it will be but also wanted to mention that when i found it it was right in the middle of 3-4 big(yet smaller than the monster)4-prong plants. In fact I didnt even notice it until after I had dug 1 of the other plants. I kept having to move it out of my way in order to see what I was doing while digging 1 of the others. It wasnt till I stood up that I saw the monster right in the middle of them. I found it in a ravine about 100ft deep and they were about 2/3 of the way to the bottom. So steep and deep I had to dig out foot holds in order to stay put without slideing to the bottom!
Now that is some nice Ginseng guys - Thanks for sharing the pics.
I have been digging ginseng (on and off) since 1978 and have found hundreds of nice 4 prong plants but none with a extra prong yet.
I have found several where a single root would have multiple tops (for example) 3 - 3 prong tops attached to one root.
Year before last me and my partner (my sisters boy who I tought how to hunt ginseng) found a really nice hollow here and from about 8 am until 1:30 we harvested 6 lbs, 3 oz of green ginseng.
Many of those were large 4 prong plants and nice 3 prongs.
You don't have many days like that (not around here anyway).
On most of our ventures we come home with 3/4 to 1 pound of green each.
Last year I went hunting a total of 14 times - most averaged 3-4 hour hunts and ended up with 1427.00 worth of dry ginseng when we sold. We sold first week in November and got 380.00 lb for our ginseng. I averaged a bit over 100.00 per hunting trip - not bad - especially considering how much I enjoy doing it & the good exercise you get.
Here's to a good year in the fall of 2010 !
PS - I am going to have to start packing a camera to get some good shots like you guys have.
Update - I had a few pics in my cell phone but had not figured out how to get those sent to my computer (until yesterday). I finally figured out I could send the pics from cell phone to email and did that. The nice 4 prong that I made my avitar was one I found last year - first week in September - it had a nice big cluster of red berries.