just to contribute my experience... I also had poor germination this spring, and the seeds weren't from harding but another vendor that has been very reliable in the past. Won't mention the name, because I'm not sure it was their fault.
I used several different planting methods: seed drill, rake/scatter, bed with a roll seed planter, and hand plant in planters. Pretty much got the same dismal results no matter how they were planted. Last year, when I tested seed in some long narrow planters, I got 100% germination. This year, I got maybe 5-10%. OTOH, the 2YO roots I bought in bulk have done very well, so it's probably not the locale.
Didn't save any so I don't have any to crack open, but I strongly suspect that with this many reports of dubious seeds from different vendors, something environmental may have been going on, could have affected the stratification process. This is a persnickety little plant.
Or, they were all getting bulk seeds from the same bad source.
Going to be checking closely next fall. At least I can take heart in knowing that it may not have been something I did wrong.
The collective knowledge on this forum is mindboggling. What a fantastic sang resource.
I bought 5 pounds last year from Wildgrown, float tested and bleached and had MABYE a hand full of floaters. I never cracked any open to check for embryo status because i never heard or read anything about it up to that point.
I did 3-4 pounds using the rake and scatter method, and the rest i just hand casted in different areas prior to our yearly leaf drop. My germination was good, i cannot be exact but would guess at 60% or better for both methods. I think i lost some throughout the summer but overall i am very happy.
I am skipping a year to see what happens next spring before another purchase to nail down the best sites on my property.
Thanks for sharing,
That is interesting that the hand-casted method prior to the leaves dropping had the same germination rate as the rake and scatter method for you. I have often wondered and thought about this. I am sure your rake and scatter method did better than 60% typically. But if you got over 60% from just hand-casting the seeds prior to the leaves falling that is outstanding. It would not take long at all to hand-cast 1 pound of seed prior to the leaves dropping.
I mean the seeds are expensive and I have been reluctant to give it a try. But if one gets caught with bad weather or other circumstances that make it difficult to find the time to plant the rake and scatter method, it is good to know that many of the seeds survived by hand-casting prior to the leaves falling.
It comes down to time verses money. It takes some people 6 to 8 hours to plant 1 pound of seed using the rake and scatter method. Lets say the seeds cost $80 bucks and you can hand-cast them before the leaves fall. That's not a bad deal if you get 60% germination hand-casting verses lets say 90% using the rake and scatter method considering you saved 6 to 8 hours labor. Not sure if I will ever hand-cast but it's good info to know.
I have planted over 50 lbs of seed in the last 4 years. I do know this thou, be prepared to watch your ginseng patches thin themselves out naturally every year. It is difficult to see the planting beds thin themselves out by about a 5 to 10% reduction per year for the first 5 years and some thereafter each year to the 10 year. At this rate I will end up with the proverbial 10 to 20% that survive by the 10 year if all goes well.
It is a bit discouraging I have to admit. But I keep telling myself it is normal and I knew going into it that 10 to 20% survival rate is normal at harvest time the 10 year. I am only planting 1 lb this year and the seed should be here today. I had planed on planting big this year but I decided to wait to see how some of my new planting sites will look that I planted last year. This spring will be the 2nd year and I have high hopes for these. If all turns out well I am going big next year.
I have had no sign of disease either. But there are deer, mice, moles, voles, drought, turkey etc to contend with and what is left and has survived by the 10 year is truly Wild Simulated ginseng.
In Scott Persons book Pg's 78-79 there is an explanation of the \"lazy method\"....LOL.
I did NOT count seeds before i cast them. So the percentages are an estimation of course, but here are some better details on my personal plots.
Plot #1 and #2 were raked and scattered as per Persons book. Gypsum was added to both plots.
Initial plants up the following spring were 60-70% or better as it is easy to tell using the 2-5 plants per sq foot. These areas were the best locations on the property as far as light, etc. Towards the end of the growing season in august/sept i bet the %'s have dwindled to 30-40%.
Plots 3-4-5-6 were hand cast NO raking in small areas here and there under different types of trees and locations. Again germination was initially 60% or so because a handfull or 2 of seeds is what was used and i could get a general feel of how many made it. But similar to the larger raked plots, the numbers have dwindled to 30-40%. No gypsum....mother nature only.
All plants in all plots looked about the same irregardless of location except plot #2 that seemed may have been a bit to sunny as the undergrowth was more than i would have liked. It is the worst plot that i have and probably the one i put the most work into....oh well.
Anywho, the bottom line is that after one season 60% is NOT what is left in my plots. Probably more in the 30-40% range. I only mentioned that fact in response to the crappy/green seed title of the thread. My soil is substandard by Persons reccomendations and Sugar maples and populars are slim to none at my place. Not ideal Ginseng ground by any stretch of the imagination. I have used only gypsum and did spread Mole pellets once. Nothing else.
Its not rocket science to figure out that the seeds are where the money is in the ginseng buisness, not the roots. Too many variables over a 10 year period with the wild simulated method. Especially organic. If we are not going to plant heavy, spray for fungus, utilize weed killers, fertilize, etc, we can still show a return in 10 years but as you said....what % is left then? Is woods grown the way to go if we are to see a more profitable return? Too early in the game for me personally to say, but my opinion is that most of the seed that we buy is NOT organic and NOT wild simulated.
I have a question on the seeds. I just recived a small order of 1/4 pound of seed. Some of these, not very many, are starting to sprout. Will they go dormant once in the ground? Or will they simply die off? New to this growing part. I think I have a fair chance of a good survival rate given my location, shade and soil. I have lots of companion plants as well as good hardwoods also in my area. Any info on the seeds is greatly apprreciatied.