Hey all! Just wanted to wish everyone a productive season. I have a question concerning ginseng quality. I'm not trying to offend anyone or anything like that. So please understand that from the onset. Several years ago my uncle Sam (lives in WV) was going to take his seng to Coffman's Metals in WV. He would always go around and get his brother's seng and anyone else's to take with him since he was going there anyway. He went to my father's and some of other people he knew and he went to his youngest brother's to take his seng and his youngest brother (Gary) asked him if he would take his friends seng with him. My uncle said sure. Well the seng was in a shoe box and my uncle wanted it put in a brown paper bag so Gary dumped it in one and Sam was on his way to Coffman's. Well he got there and and he and his wife carried all the bags in. They had about 7 or 8 bags with them. Well Sam handed Coffman the first bag which happened to be Gary's friends seng and he looked in it and said \"I ain't buying this seng. This seng is no good.\" Well that made my uncle Sam a little mad and he said well if you don't buy that seng I won't sell any of it. So Coffman asked him where it was dug and Sam said he guessed it was from Boone County he didn't know he was just bringing it for his brother's friend so Coffman dug through the bag and finally decided to buy it. He said that alot of the seng was from Kentucky and wasn't worth anything. So after they were done and Sam went back to Gary to give him the money, he asked Gary to find out where his friend dug the seng. When Gary asked his friend about the seng, he confessed to Gary that most of the seng was dug in Kentucky and he had dug some seng in WV and put on top of the Kentucky seng. Well when Gary had dumped the box of seng into the paper bag, all the good seng from WV ended up on the bottom of the bag and all the Kentucky seng was on top. According to what my Uncle Sam found out, supposedly New York ginseng is the absolute best quality seng, followed by seng from WV and Wisconsin and then Kentucky and Tennessee and so on. I want to know how the heck this guy could look at the seng and know it was from Kentucky? Secondly, why is there a difference in the quality of the seng from state to state? As I said, I am not trying to make anyone mad. Just curious to why the quality would be different.
I saw a chart once with root pics showing how each state tends to produce different looking seng. I will try to find it and post it. It showed pics of typical seng from each state. Some states produce bulbous roots. Some are shorter and fatter. Some are longer and thinner.
I cannot remember which is which. However I do not recall the article mentioning any other comments pertaining to quality of one verses the other. However, I believe the way the article was written along with the pics made it seem like a seasoned seng buyer could tell the difference of one states seng to the other.
What I have noticed is that seng from eastern Ohio looks nothing like seng roots from central Ohio. Central Ohio roots are odd looking. They tend to have an octopus like shape to them where as eastern Ohio roots are fat, bulbous and most often shaped like great root pics with many splits and forks etc like wild seng should have.
So I think an eastern Ohio root would look more like a WV root than an eastern Ohio root to a central Ohio root.
Therefore this would make grading roots by looking at them very difficult in my opinion when determining which state they came from.
My view on this is that prices does not necessarily mean the quality of the root is better, its just the preference of the buyer. Supply and demand comes into play. Plus a range of other factors, eg color, dryness, shape, corkiness and taste etc.
It could well be that Kentucky produces the most amount of root per year. Many times more than WV. Hence WV or Vermont roots are less common and they can be position to sell for better price.
I noticed some of these roots are really small and bulby with long necks. That means you need many more roots to make up a dry pound compared to the regular chunky roots. On the other end, large long necks ginseng are rare too and they command their own premium.
My opinion is that what makes ginseng roots look the way they do is the type of soil and what side of the mountain.
I know all of you that's dug under beech trees and the ground is sandy the roots are small and bulby with necks as long as the roots. Then you get in some rich loamy soil the tops maybe large but the roots are small and stringy.I've seen some of the best roots come out of soil that has a mixture of red clay. Then there is a difference in the tops of ginseng. I've seen some tops with slender pointed leaves that looks like hickory sprouts and you have to look twice to realize it was seng and then there is the fat dark green leafed seng you spot 100 feet away.
I also expect there is some bias towards ones own State in some cases - as in the person that said that NY seng was the best, was probably from NY.
Our wild seng sold as high, possibly a bit higher than most last year, peaking out at 730.00/lb on a Wednesday and we sold ours the following Saturday for 700.00/lb.
If NY or WI or WV or seng from any other state is \"somehow better\" as far as I know, they did not get any more for it than we did - in fact I think most got less.
Now here is the opinion of someone from Middle TN.
Here is the best seng on earth !
Middle TN Seng
In Scotts book he does not mention any State being better than others, but does mention root characteristics that make em worth more. \"The highest grade roots have multiple stress rings around a large bulby trunk and a long neck proving their age\". On down the page he mentiond Old (showing more than 20 growth scars)with root neck in place, Stubby, Corky, having \"the wrinkle\" extremely thin, concentric, black rings around the circumfrence of the root which are sometimes referred to as growth rings.
You can see many of those characteristics on my Middle TN Seng below. Again - in my humble opinion - the BEST seng on earth
Those roots Are very sweet.I wish all mine looked like that..At the Bottom of your pic,the short bulby ones is what I got mostly here.
I've notice not so much in the roots but in the plants it's self.Your and Billys seng looks like trees compared to what I pick.I'm lucky if the stalk is 8 inches high.The leaves on your seng look a 1/3 larger also.I wonder if that has to do with area or just a shorter growing season!!!!
The largest root I ever picked was last weekend.It was on a very small 3 pronger with no berries.I was picking it to transplant.To my suprize this very nice root was at the other end.I bet that stalk wasn't even 6 inches high.
Good posts! After reading I would probably have to agree more with Kman. I noticed that Kentucky diggers tend to dig more than WV diggers. My uncle in WV dug 44-45 wet pounds of seng about 10 years ago going every day and that was his best year ever. He usually averages 25-30 wet pounds a year. I was born and raised in WV but now live in NY. The growing season up here is alot shorter than south of the Mason-Dixon. It is not uncommon to have a frost in September in the Adirondacks. With the season starting September 1st, if a frost happens that could mean alot of seng stays in the ground here. As far as bias, that could play a role with some people. This dealer in WV was born and raised there. So him having a bias toward NY seng being the best doesn't make sense. As far as the different types of roots, that would depend on what they say in the real estate business: Location, location, location. Typically bigger, longer roots are going to be dug in the best soil and that is due to location. TNHunter has some nice roots in that picture, but I imagine that pretty much anyone in WV, KY, TN, or NY has dug ones like that at one time or another. Again keep in mind I am not trying to disparage anyone's home state. I was just curious if there was a difference in quality and how the dealer was spot on in regards to the location where the root were dug. I guess with enough experience one could recognize subtle differences that we probably wouldn't. Again great posts! Keep up the good work and good luck when the season opens! Looking forward to seeing some monster seng pictures and maybe posting some as well!
New York has that reputation because of the large size of the roots that are produced there. Plus I think some of the oldest wild roots in the U.S. come out of the Catskill mountains. I have personally held a wild NY root that was about 150 years old, that was the property of a NY buyer. I have picture but it won't load onto here for some reason. I will try again