Let's start us up a new thread on individual goals in ginseng cultivation or husbandry. Everybody pitch in and tell a little info thusfar and also where you would like to be in say five and then ten years or more, how you plan to get there, your techniques and even what you may aspire to yield from your plantings in that time. I would like to hear from Mike on this one as well
Well, this will be my eighth year in growing Wild Simulated. My goals have changed many times over this period of time.
I originally thought I would start harvesting roots when they reach six or seven years old. Now I'm looking at harvesting roots when I can dig 9, 10 and 11 year old roots all in the same year. And have a mixed batch of 9,10 and 11 yr olds to sell. That would be a few years from now. Then each year after I would continue to harvest in the same manner.
I have planted anywhere from 2-6 lbs of seeds each year and had hopes of planting 15-20 lbs this last fall. But two shoulder surgeries put a stop to that idea. So hopefully I can accomplish planting this amount of seeds this coming fall.
The plants have done well in my region. No browsing by deer, no scratching by turkies and drought is unheard of in this area. My biggest threat is slugs. Slug are pretty easy to deal with by applying Deadline. Once the roots reach the third year I have very few losts.
A year is coming when I will reap the benefits of my endeavors.
But who can be certain what the years hold in this business!
I am with you Classicfur my goals have changed a few time as well. Also good topic Hillhopper,
I have planted some spots that have done great and some that have done not so great. I have one woods where there are two spots that I planted the same seed in with the same technique. These two spots are on two separate hillsides facing North East and are divided by a feeder creek. They are only 40 yards from one another. So they look identical. Same looking soil and with a nice mild grade leading down to a larger main creek.
The ginseng babies came up great on both hill crowns mildly rounded on the crest.
Over the past 3 years the ginseng has thinned itself out dramatically on the crest. I think the mildly rounded crest has drained so well that the soil tends to dry out early in the summer and the ginseng tends to struggle. However, at the Northern facing side of the hill, the Ginseng is doing very well. I believe the soil holds the moisture much better and the ginseng has done tremendously well whereas the ginseng just up the hillside on the crest facing North East has not.
Why am I posting this on a goals thread. Simple answer is this. I had planted 15 lbs in this one area with high hope of how it would grow and flourish. However even with the right soil conditions on a mild grade facing North East the ginseng just didn't survive and flourish as anticipated.
I plant in many different areas and this is not the first time a planting area has produced and sustained ginseng LESS than anticipated. So even thou I have been at this for a while I have learned that you just never truly know how an area is going to do even if it contains all the desired traits of a good planting area.
Ginseng will typically come up pretty well if planted correctly. However, it will take about 2 to 3 years to truly tell if the area is going to produce good results. I have many areas that are doing great and unfortunately more areas than I had hoped that are not doing so great. Key thing is this. it takes a long time for a planting area to prove it is a good area to plant additional seed in. This kind of makes it hard to determine if I am in it for a hobby or in it for a substantial harvest someday.
I have what I consider to be \"The Spot\" for planting and raising ginseng and is a fairly new spot. The seng will be 2-years old this summer at this spot and I am really excited to see how it will do and how the roots look. I want to go heavy into planting this area. If this area proves to be as good of spot as I am anticipating then I am going to plant a whole lot of ginseng seed in this woods. My goals are to add a significant amount of income to my retirement someday and I plan on harvesting a whole lot of ginseng 10 to 15 years from now and so on.
If \"The Spot\" proves to be average or less than average I am sure I will still plant seed here and there but it will not be of the magnitude that I had hoped to plant for the next 5 years on so on.
If I had it my way I would grow ginseng for a living. I just can't afford the risk and I guess my goals may be bigger than my means. But I am OK with this because I know I will continue planting at some level until I take my last breath.
I've planted a little stratified seed the last couple of years and will probably continue doing some of this in the future, but the project that most excites me is an area of seed producing plants that I really got started on last fall.
I transplanted aproximately 150 \"wild\" roots from mature seed producing plants into an area that already had about 30 3-prong plants as well as numerous young plants growing there. I had transplanted some ginseng roots the previous 2 years also, but not into this area. Had good results with those transplants, so decided last fall to get a good seed procucing area started. I have another area very close by where I plan to plant the seeds that I can raise from this area. I've had very good results planting berries from wild plants over the years and plan to immediately plant the green seed. I for one have never really understood why commercial growers always stratify their seed before planting. It doesn't sprout any sooner as it still takes 18-20 months on average to germinate. The only real benefit that I see is that the seed is probably a little safer from predation from birds or rodents during the 10-12 months during stratification. Also, when planting large plots like commercial growers are putting in the conditions are often times less than perfect and it is posssible that it would be more likely that they may dry out. Anyways........
Sorry for rambling, I don't have plans on planting nearly as densely as a lot of you guys, but also have access to quite a bit of good ginseng habitat. My method of choice is to plant the green seed as soon as possible from the parent plant. I usually plant them from 1/2\" to 1\" deep depending on soil conditions. I also try to plant in areas that look like a wild plant should be growing there... This is hard to explain to anyone who has not hunted a lot for wild ginseng, but this is my method of choice.
I realize that I'll never get rich from this type of planting, but I also know that I've had a better success rate planting berries from wild plants this way than what a lot of people have with their wild simulated plantings from stratified seeds.
With all of this being said, I guess my main goal is to get as much ginseng growing as I can from presumably \"wild\" stock. However, as I stated earlier in this post - I have planted some other areas with stratified seed and will continue to do so in the future with plans to harvest these plantings starting in about 10 years.
I too have been growing wild-simulated ginseng for over a decade now, and my goals change as often as the season's. I have watched the market over the last several years, and it is apparent to me that the ginseng industry has become monopolized by a select few, The local dealers that each sell to only look as far as the next dealer for pricing. Lets recap last season,
The opening price was low, when diggers questioned their dealers, the reply was the same, the market is saturated from last years harvest, then later when the price remained low, the tune changed from a flooded market to \"the chinese haven't entered the market yet\" and then even later this forumn declined into squabbling and several people got their feelings hurt, Nobody ever came back and made the announcement that the chinese ever entered the market. Finally the response was basically \"take it or leave it.\" I did not participate in the back and forth between the members of this board because i didn't harvest any ginseng this year, but i did read most of what was going on. After going on most all of the major ginseng sites and seeing what the retail wild ginseng price is compared to what the digger recieves it has given me the motivation to work toward finding better prices for my own crop. Im fairly confident that i found the problem with the current market, so i guess my new goal is to implement a new channel to distribute my ginseng in a method that will be the most profitable for me, I know that the average ginseng digger will never dig enough ginseng to question the pricing and the dealers for the most part know this and price accordingly, however the new generation of wild-simulated ginseng growers who will spend thousands of dollars on seeds and countless hours in labor better wise up and have your own market for your ginseng when it becomes mature enough in 8-12 years. I am confident after 12 years of developing my own customer base that i will never have to \"accept\" what is offered. This post is not meant to offend anyone it is meant to inform other growers that marketing should be one of their goals.
K_Duce and other growers,
I have been attempting to grow ginseng for over 12 years and finally came into it full time after some attempts that were not as successful as I would have liked for them to be. They were great learning experiences. The experience early on was with wild stock and I moved onto wild simulated later. I will have to say that the educational part of growing ginseng has almost entirely come from using the internet. I started a flyfishing and flytying business about 13 years ago and found the use of good photography and videos really made a difference in the success of my business. This information goes out to all of the world and it really catapults a growing business.
In regard to the way that prices have been on a roller coaster, and what we might do to offset up and down seasons, I think a strategy of good photography, a good website , a great story about what you have to offer people as well as other outlets,ie.Ebay or other sites are things to really consider. Each one will have an area that works best for them. Focus on that and offer it to the public.
Another area I want to focus on in the future is to find a way to grow ginseng on public land without having to worry about poaching or having others just come in and take your crop. This will be a tough one ,but there is another alternative and that is walking 6 miles each way to dig a crop. Not much of an alternative. So this one really needs a lot of thought and it won't be worked out easily.
I got the sprayer out yesterday and cleaned every thing up and I do want to try to knock down diseases in the woods in the first two or three years and let mother nature have it after that. We'll see how some of these thoughts play out and maybe some of them will be successful.
It looks like everyone is finding out just how finicky ginseng is to grow as I have over the past 16 years. I'll continue planting because I like doing it and make some money also.
Now the problem is a lot of Asian buyers want at least 20 to 25 year old wild ginseng. I tell them with timber being cut every 15 to 20 years and cleaning out all the seng plus out of season diggers and poachers that they are asking for the impossible except for small quantites.
But like I say I'll keep going at it as long as these
old bones will let me. I'm 62.
And congrats to Hillhopper and Latt for assuming the mantle of moderators!
I have worked as a healthcare provider for 32 years. One day - in the not toooooo distant future- I hope to be out of that high stress calling. That time I'm looking forward to has shaped my goals. It's called retirement [two years two months and a day to be precise]!
I've been an avid outdoorsman [don't really like that term, however will use for now] all my life. My retirement goals had to include the outdoor experience. I also grow plants very well, have had a large home garden for 35+ years. I think I understand growing things pretty good.
When I thought about retiring and doing something I REALLY enjoy in my retirement years, I had to pick something that was a project that wasn't just going to happen anyway... one that would keep me both outdoors and growing things. Not only all that, but allow me to build up the endeavor. These things seemed obvious to my thinking. I mean, I'm almost 60, and I hope that I'll be able to do the outdoor thing for many, many more years.
I didn't want to have a real \"farm operation\" like growing wheat or tomatoes or corn. I wanted to grow something that could be lucrative -if I got it right- as well as a rare crop. Being in the woods was a plus. I looked around for such a crop. I really liked messing around inb the water as well.
I came up with growing water plants for the pond industry, as well as our favorite woodlland crop. I've built a small greenhouse, 5 ponds nearby to it, and I am expanding the water plants I grow more this year. I have started two 'sang patches, in two different areas to see which one pans out the best. My efforts thus far are flexible... either way I'm in the gensing for the long haul.
I have taken the cxautionary note the K_duce offers above re: getting the best price for dried roots. I thought that I might be better at the whole selling thing when I got to that, some years hence. I'm not easily fooled, and I'm thinking that I'll do OK once the selling is needed.
K-duce also mentioned that there were hurt feelings on this forum, sometime back. I'm not sure when this happened. Having read that, I would like to say: So, I can be sarcastic... and my usual commentary is never meant to cause bad feelings. I am trusting you guys/gals that if someone didn't like what I have to say, that they would say so in a private email to me, or on the forum.
I have always hunted ginseng but never realized any potential in raising it until I stumbled upon the idea a few years back while in search of something beneficial for my employees to do in the off season. I have been an owner of a business in the landscape and horticulture industry for twelve years now and a problem Iv always had was providing work while in the off season (January and February).
The expansion has went from my original work to the grafting and propagation of ornamental plants for the nursery industry. Primary efforts are geared toward the production of rare japanese maples grown for wholesale nurserys that I have bought plant material from for so many years so, the connections are already in place and the idea came from a lack of availability and quality I seen. Almost all work for these plants are done in Jan and Feb as well.
Enter the ginseng plant.
I don't know how I ran across the idea, I only know what I was searching for when I discovered it. Over production of nursery material would be easy to do with a few men working for two solid months in propagation so, you I felt further diversification was necessary.
I started by planting five pounds a couple years ago to get my feet wet and get a feel for it. last year I planted twenty pounds with only ten emerging. The other ten pound remaind viable throughout last year and are on the verge of emergence for this year along with the fifteen pounds I finished planting recently. Now I am awaiting to see what approximately 25 pounds of seed are going to do in the next month.
My future plans \"if all goes well\" will be to plant next a half acre and then proceed with one acre for the following years until seed production allows for more while being self supplied with good quality seed. My method of cultivation could be called an intensive wild simulated planting style with regular disease prevention and maintenance. Thusfar, all preventative care has taken place the first two thirds of the growing season only while the last third is geared toward the spraying and clearing of the next seasons planting. I have found that I alone can maintain a large amount of area and view it as enjoyable. Usually one weekly evening visit and any prevention methods are done on the weekend.
I do agree with the notion of new avenues being sought for sales when the time comes. Harvesting a quantity of say one hundred pounds, you could surely cut out a couple middle men and increase profits by five to ten thousand dollars.
Whether it be a means to fuel a college or retirement fund, an alternative source of income or as a hobby, few things I have found to make a profit are as enjoyable as this. I never really see myself \"retiring \" but just shifting gears a bit. Eventually I'm sure I'll step away from my landscape company and hand the reigns over but in the evening of my life I can also see myself being happy while managing my nurseries and tending ginseng crops into a ripe old \"hillhoppin\" age.
As many here know, this coming season will be my second year in the learning process.
I have 5 small beds in the immediate vicinity of my cabin, and I can watch, nurse, and get in some learning experience with those. I also have some beds in a bit more remote location, but still somewhat nearby. That second area is the area that I commented on as being similar to Hillhopper's road building area. The soil there tests to be a bit better than the soil on my cabin property; so I'll be taking observations from both in the manner of a rather informal comparitive study.
I also plan on learning more about soils and adjuncts. With the adjuncts, the plan right now is to let everything back to nature after two to three years from initial emergence. ... That may change, but it seems to be the ideal at the present time. On soil quality, I want to work some with extension services, and most likely a bit of interface with WVU. (They have some forestry and ginseng specific folks there in Morgantown.) I would like to take some soil samples from known wild growing areas, but I am not sure if I will accomplish that in this coming year.
Another plan is to pre-treat some good aspect wooded areas for future growing sites. I imagine that I will do this thru the use of a broadcast spreader, and may even include some spraying as per whitjr's postings in other threads.
There are also plans to construct a seed producing bed this coming Summer.
During this coming Spring/Summer I will be prepping my areas for the Autumn planing, and coupled with all of the above I will be bugging you guys for any and all manner of info. I do have Scott Person's latest book, and there are many answers in there, but sometimes in the mix of an immediate query, I may act on impulse and and ask it here.
Many many thanks for all of the help I have received here so far.
For the last couple of months, I have been working on guns. Nothing at the expert level, but mostly accurizing and restorals. It helps let the winter go by; such that I avoid wishing my life away while waiting on Spring.