Thanks hezzy. I had a massive failure with 3 year old rootlets planted the same year. Mine has looked even worse this year, but just maybe there is hope. As of last week I had a 1% success rate with the 3 y.o. rootlets.
The 3 yr 'seng rootlets and lb of seed (from Wildgrown) I planted Fall of 2015 have finally started coming up as of May 16th. So excited, as nearly all of the seeds appear to have popped, even in the test areas I doubted anything would happen! Only two of the rootlets have sent up shoots yet, but the season is still young. In contrast, I planted a test plot on the other side of my property late 2014 and those still haven't come up (from an ebay dealer)...I'm sure they weren't good seeds at all.
I'm up in Maine and heard, from the state nonetheless, that it's extremely difficult to grow it up here. I was told by the state botanist that does the inspections that I should do a test plot and only apply for the state certification if it looks like I've been successful. Apparently, most applicants fail to grow anything. I'm one of the lucky ones I guess! Of course, I did do a soil test with the state ag. testing facility and supplimented my calcium--only thing showing lower than optimum in the test-- with gypsum, so maybe that has contributed to my success. I'm also growing on a a north-west facing slope that is shaded in the late afternoon by a large hill-side.