Background: I own land in South East Tn. On the back side of my land I have 14 acres that are on a down slope facing mostly north. There are mostly maple, hickory, and white oak on those slopes. I am going to put an orchard on the front acreage but I would like to do some ginseng farming on those back 14.
This year I decided to plant 15 test plots that are about 3 foot by 3 foot in size. In January I purchased 4 oz of seeds and 1 lb of rootlets. I got them mid January and stuck them in the refrigerator. I planted them over the next two weekends, so they were all in before February.
I put about 4 rootlets in each test plot and about 50 seeds. I watched a bunch of videos on planting and followed the instructions. My seeds came up really well, and are still doing great. The problem is that in the test plots I only had 1 rootlet that came up. They were 3 year roots. The one root that came up sprouted beautifully and got about 8 inches high. It was really nice. I came back a week later and it had started to wilt. The leaves just hung down. When I came back a two weeks later it was gone. None of the other rootlets came up. My seeds are doing great. They have even made it through a really dry month here in south east tn.
Oh we do have a lot of deer so I put up some metal fence around each plot. I just cut a 6 foot piece of wire and arched it over each plot just to make sure the deer would not eat while trying to determine if my land was a good match for growing seng.
My question is do y'all have any idea why only one of my roots came up and it died after a few weeks? Is it possible that the roots will grow next year?
Sometimes rootlets do not do all that great in the first year. I am concerned about the one that did come up and then died. Not sure what happened there. It may be possible that the rootlets will come up next year. Congrats that your seeds came up.
Assuming your rootlets were healthy, perhaps there is something in the soil or canopy that they didn't like. Who knows why and perhaps your test plots let you know that seed is the way to go.
Thanks for the reply Latt! I hope they do come up next year.
Here is a picture of the one root that came up. It looked really great. Right after I took that picture I put wire over the top of the whole plot. When I came back the next week it had wilted.
Here is a picture of the seeds. It had not rained for the better part of the month by the time I took this shot. I thought they were going to be dead when I got out there to check on them. It has since rained a couple times.
I have never bought any rootlets to plant, but I have transplanted several and mine have always done well, near 100% come up the next spring.
But I would dig mine one day, and place the root in a bag of damp leaves and dirt until I got back to my home spot, and then plant them the same day. Being especially careful with the bud spur.
The bud spur is quit sensitive, and after it has developed - if it dries out or gets damaged, you get no top the next year. But as long as the root has enough stamina / substance, over that next year, it will develop another bud spur and send up a top the next year.
My best guess on your pound of rootlets that almost none came up, would be some kind of bud spur damage.
On your one that came up and wilted and died... could have been any number of things that attack ginseng on a regular basis, fungus, root rot, etc (some kind of disease)... or even moles / voles - if they find a seng root, they will eat it or a good chunk of it. One could have eaten the top half of the root causing the top to immediately wilt and die.
If the bottom half of the root is still in the ground, and still has enough stamina / substance to it... in a year or two it may eventually develop a bud spur and send up a top.
Ginseng can reproduce vegetatively... for example if you had a good sized long root, with a bud spur on the top end, and you cut that root in two pieces (in the middle)... the part of the root with the bud spur would send up a top, most likely that next spring. The part of the root that had no spur, would remain dormant for a while, a year or two possibly, but would eventually (most likely) develop a bud spur and send up a top. So from one root, you eventually get two separate plants.
The success rate on that is not anywhere near 100% but it does work. A few years ago I did some research on that - there is quite a bit of info on the internet if you look around for it.
Nice Looking 3 leafers...
A caution on 3 leafers, you can plant seed in a location, and have great germination, and some really nice 3 leafers, but if the location is not right, those 3 leafers will remain small weak plants, and 4-5 years later, you will have a few scraggly 2 prongs and some big 3 leafers in that spot. They just never really develop, and what does survive stays small and weak. I planted several places in my early days, where there was no wild ginseng growing, thinking well it might just work here. And I have several places that I put in test plots like that, that are exactly as I described (4-5) years later.
You really need to see a test plot thru to year 3 to determine the success of it. If at year 3, you are getting quite a few 3 prongers, and some are starting to produce berries... I would say that is an excellent sign of success for that area.
Just because you have a nice wad of 3 leafers the first year, don't get too excited about it... it takes time to prove success when it comes to seng growing.
On them 3 year old rootlets; I bought 10 lbs from the company that sells seed with superb germination (probably up there as the best). However, on year one about 30+ (out of 600) came up but were looking scraggly. Of them, most made the year and some seeds. This is year two since planting them and I can only find 4 survivors. I would not plant the 3 year old rootlets that are field grown. On the other hand, I bought 100 one-year old rootlets from an ebay seller out of Minnesota, and they are kicking butt! Of hand I cannot remember how many made to now, but it's over 80%. Almost all are going to bloom this year with several three prongs.
Thanks for all the replies! I HATE the idea of waiting 3 years to see how the seeds grow. I was about ready to plant an acre this fall, maybe I'll just plan a quarter acre instead. To me the place just seems perfect, but what do I know. The soil drains very well and there are a lot of ferns. There are a lot of deer in the area, which is why i figured there was no ginseng in the area. If I can get it to grow I don't mind putting up some deer fencing around my crop.
After reading everything above, I do have hope that those roots will come up in the spring.
I purchased roots from a Wisconsin farm last year that were three years old. I planted them in a perfect place, north facing with other wild plants around, and planted to their instructions. Well, this spring nothing came up. I hope they just come up next spring but as of now I don't recommend planting roots from a field farm. This fall I will buy berries and plant them as I plant the wild berries from the area. I wish they had a money back guarantee.
I visited my plants yesterday and I have 5 plots that are still looking good with the babies still looking green. About another 4 plots have very few babies left and the ones that are left are a very light yellow color. If they keep coming back i will move them in a few years.
The other 5 plots I have are already gone. based on the plots that are doing well I expect that I have about 7 or so good acres that I can grow on. This winter I am going to plant some larger test plots in the area that the test plots seem to be growing well.