For those of you with experience at growing wild simulated ginseng - I have a few questions to ask and observations I wanted to mention in regards to \"how much and what kind of\" light exposure is best for growing stong healthy ginseng and possibly getting marketable roots earlier.
First - an observation:
Here in Middle Tennessee it is quite common for timber companies to harvest the timber by clear cutting the ridge tops (hardwood timber - mostly oaks) and then planting them back in pine trees. They often just leave the hollow bottoms and don't even select cut the timber down in the hollows.
Something my ginseng hunting partner and I have noticed the past few years is when we do get to hunt seng in a place like that - the ginseng that grows down near the bottom of the hollow is normal/average size.
But the ginseng we find up closer to the ridge tops or up at the head of a hollow up closer to the clear cut areas (where there is more sunlight getting thru) that Ginseng is BIG and HEALTHY looking and has good roots to.
We have found some HUGE 4 prong plants that were actually growing right up at the edge of the clear cut where it looks like they would be getting a LOT of sunlight.
I recently bought and have read most of Stott Person's latest book on Growing & Marketing Ginseng but have not found anything in there where he mentions planting your ginseng in locations where they might get a few hours of early morning light - but then be shaded well for the rest of the day.
I have read other material (online) that suggest that ginseng likes a bit of morning light and you can seriously decrease the amount of time it takes to get mature plants with marketable roots if you allow for a good dose of early morning light.
I am not sure if the areas near those clear cuts where we found the HUGE 4 prongs growing right at the edge of the clear cut were situations where they would be getting a lot of early morning light - but not any direct light after that. I expect that may have been the case - but not sure. Next time I see that situation with wild ginseng I will sure make note of what kind of light they were getting.
I have looked over my property well and found a few locations where a hillside (that has a small amount of wild seng growing) gets a couple of hours of good morning lignt - but after that is shaded well.
On the opposite hillside a couple of big red oaks got blown down by some hard wind we had a couple years ago and that opend up the hillside I plan to plant to some good early morning light.
I own 230 acres of land and could sure do some select cutting of the timber to produce such locations. Remove and sell a few large trees on one hillside to make morning sun on the other.
Have any of you tried something like that ?
Or what are your thoughts on morning light and ginseng growing sites ?
I usually look for sunshine on spots in the woods in the a.m., so early light works. Generally speaking it seems to me that old selective cuts, 3 to 6 years old produce plants. It helps if the companion plants are also present. Evergreens by me do not present good growing conditions, probably not enough light in spring.
On the select cut timber areas - we do hunt wild seng in a lot of places like that and have found that sites that were select cut 8-10 years ago (or more) often have some very healthy ginseng growing in them today. The ginseng in places like that appears to be doing better than in old timber tracts where none has been harvested in 20-40 years or more.
Sometimes the tracts that have recently been select cut are still fairly thick with undergrowth, saplings, blackberry canes, weeds of all kinds but if you can wade thru all of that you do often find some really nice ginseng growing right in there with it.
I own a 30 acre tract that was select cut in 1992 (14\" or larger) and it has some marketable timber on it now but I don't plan to harvest any for another 10 years or so.
I own another 200 acre tract that was last select cut by my Grandfather in 1979 and I found some good ginseng on it last fall but the timber there is BIG now and not a lot of light reaching the forrest floor anymore.
One site I found online showed a picture of some (I think it was) 6 year old wild simulated ginseng plants that were still small two prongs (growing in deep shade) and other plants that were the same age that were nice 3 prongs (growing in an area with more light, morning light getting thru).
Sounds like if you plant wild simulated in a nice deep shady place you might have to wait 15-20 years to get marketable roots. That would not be nice.
Just wondering how much attention those of you who have experience at growing wild simulated are paying to the amount and type of light your planting sites are getting.
TNhunter, me and a friend of mine have been growing wild simulated for a few years now. When we first started out my partner wanted to do our first planting in the darkest part of our woods. I explained to him that ginseng needed that early morning light. I admit I knew nothing at the time, only what I had learned doing research. I always look for morning light in the places I plant and have actually cut down trees to make more light.
There also use to be a pretty good spot in my area that was good for hunting ginseng. It has since been cleared to build houses, but back in the day it was covered with ginseng. Those woods were very dark and as a result the ginseng we found there were very small plants. I once dug a 25 year old root from that spot that was so small you would've thought it came off a small two pronger. At first I thought it was the soil, but it turns out it was the lack of light.
I have seen the same thing you mentioned - very small weak looking plants with small roots that were in the 20 year old range based on root scar - growing in timber that had not been harvested in 40-50 years.
Some of those HUGE 4 prongs we found with HUGE roots growing in the edge of that clear cut timber were less than 10 years old.
I have already located a few good spots on my property where there is excellent morning light for a couple hours, but then from noon until sunset good shade.
When I get those spots filled up with ginseng beds I will try and find some spots where I can cut down some non-value trees (dogwood, sourwood, beech, etc) to make some more good early morning places to plant.
I hate to cut those white and red oaks - I got plans to harves them too someday.
I have seen a device online where you can (with a 4 wheeler) take good sized logs out of your own woods. I may have to get one of those things if I eventually have to cut some good timber to make room for ginseng.
I just found this post and this is what i saw this week when i was topping my ginseng, last august i was having some vaneer white oaks cut on my property thru it all i was very hesitant of letting the logger near my ginseng because his skidder was kinda big. he is a long time friend so when we were marking trees we eased over near one of my ginseng boundries, i showed him where to enter and leave the woods so he would not travel over my beds, he looked at part of my crop and was astonished at the amount of ginseng growing in that area, however these are just small to average size 5 year old plants, well this year when i finally made it over to the boundry of my patch while topping it what i found was plants that had almost tripled in size that were within the radius of where the canopy of the fallen white oak trees used to be, the difference in the size of the plants was very noticeable, i had know that ginseng grows well in logged areas but i didnt think that results of opening up your canopy would be that great, now i am thinking that i should really evualate my entire ginseng growing acerage and possibly do some more select tree removal it looked like the size difference extended out about 20-30 feet past the original canopy radius. the palnts were alot heartier and had much larger stems, however some appeared to be getting too much light and were yellowing already. I now think that sunlight might perhaps be the biggest single factor in site determination and sizeable ginseng within a reasonable period of time.
Thanks for reporting the results of your own experience with this.
I found one spot on my property where I have a hollow that runs mostly in a north westerly direction and one of the hillsides faces the north east and over on the other hillside which faces mostly south west two huge red oaks were blown over by some hard wind a few years back.
That created a situation where on that north eastern facing hillside from shortly after sun up until around 10:00 there is near full sun hitting the lower 1/3 of that north eastern facing hillside.
But the timber on that hillside is fairly mature and thick and from about 10:00 am on the shade is excellent (deep shade).
There are also several hard maple and poplar trees right there in that area (the kind of leaves you want on a ginseng growing area, adding calcium to boot).
There was also sort of a wide open place going up that north eastern facing hillside - just a clearing between the larger maple and poplar trees with just a little brush growing but a lot of poison oak and other weeds (lots of low green stuff growing) including various ferns including maidenhair fern.
The poison oak was expecially healthy looking, had the ground covered thick in most of that area.
I read in Scotts book that he has seen places like that where he had to take roundup to the poison oak and then the site made excellent ginseng planting beds.
I did that back around the first of July and checked on it again last weekend and that poison oak is no where to be found now. The roundup took good care of it.
I did my best just to hit the poison and leave some of the other undergrowth plants. There were a few small 2 & 3 prongs growing in that spot already and I made sure to avoid those.
That spot looks really good now and this fall/winter I am going to plant that area using the poke one hole, plant one seed method and will try to space them 6-8\" apart in rows up the hillside leaving some space every 4 rows for walking path.
I hate that I had to spray that poison oak but it was so thick I don't think any ginseng seedlings could have had a chance, and I hate poison oak - every year I get some of that on my hands while digging seng and it bothers me for weeks.
That site will definately be a good experiment for planting where there is excellent morning sun, but good shade the rest of the day.
I will probably video or at least take some pics of my planting efforts in that site and hopefully a bunch of 3 leafers next spring, and will report back on the results over time.