Last fall I planted 3,500 seeds and 70 3 year old roots in the woods in wisonson. I have a good sloped piece of land with the Niagara escarpment under it. The drainage is excellent. There are hardwoods like maple and the PH is good and I believe wild ginseng grows in the area(but I've never seen any). The property has various ranges of sun light, but I planted the seeds and roots in the appropriate sun light conditions. On Memorial Day weekend I was able to pull back the leaves and see seeds just beginning to sprout. I also saw a root with the new growth all curled up and ready to pop. I don't live there full time so I left after Memorial Day and returned this week to absolutely no ginseng growth. It's been a cool and wet spring and I fear that slugs have eaten all my seedlings and root growth(there are a lot of slugs under the leaves). I see the roots are still there but the curled up growth is gone. I just put some sluggo down, but it must be too late. Here is a picture of the seeds I saw sprouting a few weeks ago. Seems like a tootal loss and I'm preparing to plant again for next year and take more precautions against insects and critters. I'm disappointed, I though for sure I would have the start of a genseng crop.
It sounds like what you are describing is almost a 100% loss. It's pretty hard to believe that growing conditions would produce that much of a set back. We've seen this happen before and when we go back to investigate it usually winds up being something that you did with storage of the seeds and rootlets before you planted them. This sounds like a revolving door, but try to remember exactly what you did with the seeds and rootlets after you received them. Maybe that will give us a clue.
I'm not able to post pictures, but I have a picture of some seeds just beginning to germinate a few weeks ago. Last September I got the seeds and roots during the week, stored them in the fridge and planted them them within a few days. I think I put too many sticks and leaves on the seeds and roots. With the sticks crisscrossing and with the wet leaves on top, I can't imagine how anything could get through that. So I dug up a few roots. One was mostly eaten by insects. I found 2 roots that are fully intact but it looks like the new growth was eaten by insects. I see some seed that is not germinated, but I don't see any seed sprouts anymore. There are deer here, but they don't come around often. There is too much human activity for the deer in the summer. My initial planting was not very organized,I raked back the ground cover then planted the seeds and roots around a few trees. Next year I plan to only use leaf cover. I might even build a few boxes and cover them with some wire fencing on top. I also plan to use an insecticide in the Spring. I'll run a few experiments to see how to best get the seng growing. I don't have much land, but I hope to eventually get a half acre of seng growing. Also I planted some seed with no cover in some hostas and I think it has sprouted. For next year, when I plant the roots. Do I plant a full 1 or 2 inches under soil?
Although I can't be certain, this is usually the culprit when seed or rootlets do not come up. \"stored them in the fridge\". If the seeds and rootlets were in good shape when you received them, placing them back in a cold environment could either kill them or cause them to go back into dormancy. The other things that you mentioned were probably not the problem. I believe that some of them would have come up even if you placed some extra leaves or sticks on them. We seem to continually have this problem with new growers. If you plant again, just place the seeds in a cool place with maybe a wet or damp piece of paper towel in the bag to keep a little moisture around them. Good luck with your next planting.
However, it sounds like you saw an abundance of evidence of the seed germinating with the stem searching for a spot to come out and poke through the wet leaves.
Unfortunately, I have seen this where the energy stored in the seed simply runs out of energy.
Eventually the white stem running under the heavy wet leaves and sticks cannot find a spot to pop up.
I have seen it in my first planting spots years ago where I planted seeds and raked heavy wet oak leaves on top of them.
Some of the white stems coming from the seed were up to 4 inches long before they ran out of gas as they ran under the wet leaves.
Planted a pound of seed this way and saw hundreds upon hundreds of these under the thick wet oak leaves. No ginseng plants ever made it through the thick leaf litter I created.
Sometimes it is best to go out in late April and gently fluff up the leaves to allow the ginseng plant to pop up through the leaf litter if you suspect you raked too much leaf litter on top the seeds.
This does not account for the older rootlets though. Typically a 2 or 3 year old rootlet can have enough energy to push through the thick wet leaves. So I am stumped in this aspect.
Unfortunately, any seed that you planted that did germinate and not make it through the leaves this year will never germinate again.
Better luck next time.
If this is your first season maybe you didn't rake the leaf litter back far enough? My first year I experimented with different places and methods. If I just pulled back the leaf litter I got a 100% loss. So I did two step raking. Pulling the leaf litter back, than raking harder and pulling back some of the duff layer to. which is where the seeds would be naturally after two years in the forest.
Maybe there is something more than meets the eye here? Maybe the PH is way off, or there is some kind of hostile fungus growing in the soil. It could also be there are other plants growing there that produce toxins from their roots to weaken and kill competition.
This was my first planting. I raked the ground pretty well and made some grooves with a hoe. I really think I put too much sticks and leaves on top my planting. Putting the seeds in the fridge probably limited the amount of seeds that actually germinated. I will take all your advise into consideration for my next planting. I'll do a few test plots to try and figure out what works best. From everything I've read I should have a good piece of land for growing Shang. Thanks everyone for the tips.