How to Dig Wild Ginseng

Care should be taken in digging ginseng. With a simple digging fork or trowel, commence digging about 6 inches from the stem. Remove the soil carefully over a 12-inch diameter circle, digging down until you can see the main ginseng root. This is important because the underground stem often proceeds horizontally before it joins the top of the true root.

Continue to loosen the soil to be sure all the main, tail and branch roots are exposed before lifting. Roots broken off and left in the soil represent lost money ... and the highest prices are paid for intact, un-damaged roots.

After digging, brush loose soil from the roots

Sometimes it is impossible to remove the mature plant without disturbing the roots of smaller, immature ginseng plants growing close by. When this occurs, replace the smaller roots and pack soil firmly around them. These will be available for harvest in future years.

Re-seeding for the future

In nature, very few wild ginseng seeds survive to germinate and develop a new generation. But prompt and proper re-seeding by harvesters will increase the chances for germination and help guarantee improved stands and larger yields in future years.

Most state regulations require that at harvest time, all mature seeds must be planted in the same general area in which the parent plant was dug. This is to assure that soil and shade conditions will be favorable for the seedlings.

After digging the roots, squeeze the berries to break the pulp. Most berries will contain 2 or 3 seeds. Plant the individual seeds about 6 to 12 inches apart and one-half inch deep in the soil and cover the area with leaf litter.

It is essential that the planting be done promptly before the berries have time to dry out. Once dry, ginseng seed will not germinate.