So I've been watching my 2nd year plants emerge and noticed most are still three leafers. With 5 leafers pretty common and a smattering of two prongs. Found one three prong, though I didn't look super hard. It's hard to say exactly how many didn't make it to the 2nd year, I'll know that better once everything has come up.
So the question is the 2nd year after planting what's the ratio I should be seeing when it comes to what each plant is (3 leafer, 5 leafer, 2 prong, 3 prong) when it comes up?
Your planting sounds like one of my better ones. Went out yesterday and checked on one of my patched in Eastern Ohio. 4 years old seng planted in the fall of 2009. Man I have 3 leafers, 5 leafers, 2 prongs and some 3 prongs. Just like your 2nd year plants.
So I bet you will be ahead of me in the next 2 years. I bet most of yours will be 2 to 3 prongs by year 4. Mine are very healthy, very close together in some spots and so beautiful. The darn things are just small for their age.
I will post some pics in the next day or two.
I really should go out and take a count on this myself. This would give us a point to judge location, soil, light, and overall growth. I have noticed I have mostly two prongs and large 5 leafers in my locations with 4-6k calcium levels and ph levels from 5.7-6ph. I planted some on hard clay soil with low calcium levels of 1500-2k and they are mostly 3 leafers and much smaller. Light levels are generally very close.
I have 2 yr plants larger than wild plants I have seen that are in their 20s and 30s due to poor soil and light. I am talking 3 prongs that are smaller than my 3 leafers and small two prongs. I due a few last year to take a look at their age and transplated a few in better spots.
On my low ph and low CA I added some calcium carbonate vs lime (1000lbs/acre)I do plan to add some gypsum as well.
I think there are too many variables to give a true average of what should come up with any certain top.
On my property I have gotten to the point I know where are the best growing spots and which aren't; based on light,soil texture,slope and many other variables that fall into play. I don't pick and choose, It's all North slope and pretty good soil so I plant it all. Here are a few circumstances in what I have seen on my place.
Example: 1. Gently rolling, loose loamy soil, 85% shade and high calcium
2nd year 2% 3prongs
3rd year 70% 3prongs, 2% 4prongs
4th year 80% LARGE 3prongs, 20% 4prongs
Example: 2. Same as above but with only 60-70% shade
2nd year 10% 3prongs
3rd year 85% Large 3prongs 5% 4prongs
4th year FOUR PRONG CITY!
Example: 3. Same as #2 but became infested with Stinging Nettle
2nd year 30% 3 leafer and 60% 5 leafer 10% 2 prong
3rd year 100% 2 prong but small
4th year 70% 2 prong 30% small 3prong
Example 4. Extremely steep slope and hard soil with 80% shade
almost the same growth as #3 with a higher average of 3's in 4th year
You can bet in year 1 if those babies get their leaves fattened up as wide as a quarter and are a couple inches long you will have plenty two prongs (most likely some threes) in year 2
Amazing how soil and canopy affects seng growth. Here your 4 year olds in \"Example 2\" are 4 prongs and with my 4 year olds I have 20% 3 leafers, 30% 5 leafers, 40% 2 prongs and 10% 3 prongs.
All planted in the same area with same seed supplier. So not only does soil and canopy matter, the seeds vary a lot on how big they want to grow. I mean seeds from the same bag planted the same way and at the same time can be side by side and one plant is a 3 leafer and the other is a 3 prong. Very interesting and I do not know why there is such a difference in development.
I think it's amazing the amount of 4-prongs you get in the south. In my area, I'm lucky to find 2 plants a year with a 4-prong top, even among 20+ year old plants. They just don't get that big in my area, 3-prong is mostly all I see. There's a few I've dug up and counted over 40 growth rings, and they were just average sized 3-prong tops.
Right here close to my home I see the same thing as you... almost all 3 prongers. Very rare to find a 4 prong (only found one in many a year hunting here close to home).
Found a many 3 prong in the 20-60 year old range that were still smallish 3 prongs (8-10\" tall).
But now on down the hollow a mile or so, near the creek, and a limestone bluff I wondered one day hunting and found a nice pile of big stout 4 prongs with beautiful bulb roots. The roots were 2-3x as large as what I usually find closer to home and these plants were not all that old either (most looked to be 5-8 years old).
They were on a east facing bluff, rock chip filled soil, getting a lot of morning sun.
It's the location, soil type / soil fertility, sun exposure, moisture, etc... that makes em get big and stout - not necessarily the age.
Sounds like where you normally hunt you may have conditions close to what I have near home here.
I would recommend that you search out areas that you might get to hunt that have rock bluffs facing north to east. I always find really good ginseng, and lots of 4 prongs in areas like that.