i just wondered if anyone knows what quality ginseng is I must not know after 25 years of hunting as my sang and eight others was rejected by korshack from the great northern ginseng company(ha great] i have never had my sang rejected and always told it was top grade.i shouldnt have broke from my local buyers.
gave your question a bit of thought and its hard to discribe quality ginseng without seeing it in person for most diggers it would mean a good average size and age not broken up or cut up no young roots with smooth skin with few rings also includes a good percentage of bulby roots if your ginseng meets that standard you should not have any problem selling .the best example i know of would be hobbler or maydas roots from this season .
Here are a few pictures that might help you to visualize what I call 'good quality ginseng.'
This first one is of pencils, sticks, whatever you want to call them. No matter what you call them, they aren't moving at all right now and are not worth more than about $180-200/lb. Mixing them into a better lot will only bring the lot down...not make them worth more.
This next picture is of hard, dense boney root. Notice the scaley skin with few if any wrinkles. In proper light, they have a grey/greenish cast to them. Drop them on a table from an inch up and they sound like you dropped a rock. They are much heavier (like lead) as compared to corkey (like balsa wood) root which is much more desirable. Boney root has little if any value in this current market.
Next is damaged roots. A root might be 30 years old, perfect in shape, color and texture and very large, but if it is damaged...it is damaged. Damaged root is worth only 1/3 of the going high price. Notice the screwdriver marks on some of these from digging. The ones on the right were scrubbed, or otherwise not handled well and the skin was rubbed or otherwise taken off. This puts them in the damaged category. Never use a brush on ginseng. In the current market, root that isn't washed properly (too clean -washed out very light appearance- or too dirty) is considered damaged root also and worth only 1/3 of high prices.
This last picture is of a nice collection. Few if any pencils, boney or damaged roots. Washed and handled correctly and carefully. Short and bulby, rather than long. Good dark skin color (which you can see if you have the dirt washed off properly -it gets too light if you wash it too much) which is desirable. Good wild character overall. Not too much fiber, good shape, and well ringed. The size is a little on the small side, but even in the current market I would be paying very close to top price on this lot. If there were some larger roots in this lot (5-6% or more) I'd pay absolute top price, and if the majority of them were very large (still not boney and very good wild character) I'd pay a bonus over top price.
I hope that helps.
If you would, maybe you can post some pictures of your ginseng and let some of us give some opinions of it.
Brad, that is a perfect explanation that veterans and rookies alike should be able to use as a reference. Especially coming from you, who is a buyer. This should be a sticky on the forum for future reference to newcomers.
thanks for the pics and i do see the difference . My question is this. When i am digging sang how am i supposed to know what a root is going to be before i dig it. seems like a waste to dig sang that wont sell. I have always thought that as long as it was good size clean and unbroken it was acceptable. if i see a big four prong it looks like good sang to me. If half the sang i dig is bad then its not really worth my time. It didnt used to be this way.
Brad, that was a very good explanation. The pictures really helped. However, can you explain the \"sections\". I have been asked by several diggers why Arkansas ginseng that looks just as good as Kentucky or West Virginia always sells for less. I have done my best to explain, but it might carry more weight coming from a veteran dealer like you.
The market is moving from quantity to quality in my opinion based upon my observations. More and more we see the size of the average root getting smaller which isn't good for the market or the plant's long-term outlook. If you dig down gently with your hands, you can normally see the shape and size of the primary root without unearthing it. The rule of thumb is good. If it is not as big as your thumb, leave it for another year. If it is a long thinner root, it is much more valuable there in the woods making seed and getting bigger than on my table. Likewise, something we all need to get out of the habit of, is determining a harvestable plant based on the size of the top. I have a wild sim patch that has had very large threes and many fours for several years now. But, the roots just aren't quit ready yet. If every digger in the country just dug every legal size plant, it won't help the market in the long run. This year we are seeing a high percentage of smaller roots and an exceptionally high percentage of pencil roots. Those should never have been dug even if the top was four feet tall and had 12 prongs.
I'm not sure I'm the best person to try and explain that, as I don't buy much from other states. However, when I do, there is certainly differences in the areas of the country in which the ginseng grows.
Again, I might not fully understand the concept and welcome anyone else to chime in who knows more.
My understanding is that soil and growing conditions (climate, elevation etc) are the primary reasons for the differences in ginseng from one area to the other. Some soils are darker and therefore the skin of the roots are darker and more desirable in today's high end market. Certain areas of the country (called sections because they might encompass parts of several states) have very desirable root -normally the bulby well ringed roots. For instance, southeastern Ohio (and parts of KY, WV, and PA near the river) produces roots which are typically bulby at a certain percentage. Up here where I live in north central Ohio, the average root is more stringy and pencil in quality. In fact, it is very much similar to root found in much of Kentucky and central Tennessee. If I quote 1000/lb, that root will only be worth about 300/lb. However, if the percentages are within reason, and there are not much damaged or boney roots, the lot generally will absorb the lower quality stuff. However, if you dig too much of the low end, the whole lot suffers.
Another thing to consider is the cost of doing business. I don't know how much root there is in Arkansas, but I don't think I've ever seen any from there. So, I don't know if it would fit into a lot from elsewhere in the country or not, or if there is enough available to be productive.
In every area of the county where folks dig ginseng, there are some who are well above the average when it comes to being selective in what they dig, digging meticulously and carefully, cleaning only as much as is necessary and drying properly. Those folks don't come walking in my door with a walmart bag of ginseng bouncing off their leg either. They bring me boxes or plastic tubs so their ginseng doesn't get all broken up. THESE are the folks from whom we all want to learn.