You need to control your shade to seventy percent. Ginseng likes to have exposure to the morning sun, but it needs to be in shade by 1:00 p.m., as ginseng likes cool afternoons. Southwest corners of woods should be highly shaded to help keep ginseng plants cool in the late afternoon.
You can tell where the light is right in your woods by studying the
undergrowth. Too much vegetation means too much sun, and ginseng will not grow there. You
might clear out this area and build some artificial shade.
other Site Considerations
The seeds that we have for
this spring planting are just some of the most outstanding seeds that Ive had the
opportunity to handle. Weve been working on a new stratification process over
here, kind of a spin off on the work that weve been doing on growing ginseng south
of the equator. We know that ginseng has an 18 month germination period, creating the
necessity to stratify these seeds for one year prior to planting. The key to the
germination is abrupt temperature changes such as you would find at the spring of the year
under natural conditions. As the snow starts to melt in the spring, temperature changing
radically triggers the germination of the seeds.
Bed preparation can be elaborate or simple. Removing the underbrush and lower plant growth will make it easier to plant, mulch and harvest ginseng. Use approved herbicides to kill small growth. Then remove brush and undergrowth that would be a problem when planting and harvesting. Keep the beds six feet wide and insure enough space to reach all weeds and the plants from both sides. Work your beds from drainage ditches.
Undergrowth needs to be cleared to improve air circulation, to reduce competition and to allow room to till . Weeds need to be eliminated. A herbicide should be sprayed on your site about two weeks prior to planting. Round-Up works good here. As part of your site preparation you should consider the balance of light in the woods. If you are going to utilize the woods, you need a good forestry program.
For goodness sake, plan your plantation in advance! Allow yourself time, not only to get the merchantable timber out of the way, but get the firewood out of the way so that you have a clean site. Remove all the downed stuff. You need a good clean site to work with.
Get started with a hybrid seed patch first. About ninety percent of the woods that I have walked into, I could go over to the east side and I could find a place in there that with a minimal amount of work would be a good site for an initial seed bed. Those plants would then be up and growing for you, leaving time to balance your woods, work on the programs, etc.
This does not free up the capital that is involved in a commercial venture immediately, but growing ginseng should be a long term venture. It does take a certain amount of commitment, but it is not that difficult a plant to grow. It is not all that easy, either. If you approach growing ginseng as a way to get rich quick overnight, you ought to think a second time about planting it. You can make a lot of money in the ginseng business, but common sense is what will get you there faster.
Generally ginseng is a low maintenance crop. Proper pH is very important, 5.5 to 6.0 is best.
Your local feed mill or lawn and garden supply can recommend what is best for any problems you may have. They might even test the soil for you (test kits are available for you to use)!
If you follow the recommendations for growing potatoes in your area then you will be on the right path.
Spraying is necessary during April and May, about every ten days while the "Glacial Gold" ginseng seedlings are coming up. After that you need to spray about every three weeks until the plants go dormant in late September. I blend coyote urine in with my spray. This really keeps the deer and other wildlife out of your beds. Deer do not like to eat ginseng, but their sharp hooves can do some serious damage to your plants.
Ginseng is susceptible to Alternaria Blight, Phytophthora Leaf Blight and Phytophthora Root Rot. As a precautionary measure, from the start, I had been using Manzate2OO DL by Dupont. They no longer make this. I have found that what they are using for potatoes, works well for ginseng. It treats the leaves and then goes down to treat the roots. I use a good emulsifier, if you don't have any, liquid dish soap will do. This helps the spray stay on the leaves longer. I have had some awful nice, healthy plants. Stay on top of it, get out there and check these plants periodically. The problem with ginseng is if it develops a problem, it can develop it in a hurry. You need periodic checks. The second you find something wrong with your plants, do something about it! These things can multiply! Ginseng needs some spray and we know what works good for them. Especially in the first year's growth, you have to almost "baby-sit" them. After the first year, it is an entirely different situation.
Ginseng does not always come up every year. It is a perennial plant. Sometimes they come up one year and don't come up at all the next year. These beds that I have been working on, I am seeing actually new seedlings coming up with the two and three year old plants ... These are seeds that did not germinate the first year. The roots are the same way. Some of the old timers tell me that ginseng can go two, or even three years, before it will come back up again.
Do not hesitate to contact your local college, they have some real good extension services. You can learn from a book and you can learn out in the field.
These books can shortcut your education, what I am trying to do is keep you away from some of the problems that we've got in ginseng.
My own product that we label is 100% woods grown. I have many people who have used my product, happily coming back and paying $23.95 (US) for another bottle. That's quality. The other products on the market are working with low ginsitis level, only four or five percent of ginsitis.
Really good plants will be in the fifteen to eighteen percent levels. How they test for levels gets a little complicated. An old test that my dad taught me as a young man is you take a root, snap off the end, taste it with the tip of your tongue. When it's real bitter, that is good ginseng. After you have tasted different types of ginseng, you get where you can tell whether it is good ginseng or not. Do the same thing with your commercial capsules and take a taste with the tip of your tongue.
If you have good ginseng and drop a small piece into a bottle of beer, the alcohol will release the ginsitis and cause the beer to foam. If you put a small piece into a cup of coffee you can taste the bitterness. Break up a capsule, the contents should do the same thing. No foam means low ginsitis levels. Heat or alcohol will release the ginsitis in ginseng.
"SPRING PLANTING TIP'S"
Plant early, especially the further North you are. This
gives the seeds a chance to become climatically adapted to the environment that they are
being planted in. This also gives the seeds a chance to be absorbing the nutrients
from the soil that they are going to be raised in. When purchasing your seeds, be
especially wary of seeds with dried out hulls. The embryos may be alive, but your
germination factor will be greatly reduced. Naturally all of our seeds are
float tested and decontaminated before shipment. Quality must be number one.
Our future markets are going to demand it.
Year Old Woods Grown "Wild
Simulated" Ginseng Rootlets.
For Best Results; Make a Seed Bed 6' Wide and 90' Long For Each Pound of "Glacial Gold"™ Ginseng Seed To Be Planted.
Custom Planting And Site Preparation Services
Are Available On Orders Of 50#'s Or More
Consulting Services Are Available.
During the Fall Planting Season, we are
standing by to take your orders and credit card information from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM EST.. Monday through
Saturday. (Personal Checks and C.O.D.'s are also welcome.) Michael Hunter is often available to answer
brief questions and take your order personally. If you happen to be in the Jackson, Michigan area, please feel
free to stop by and pick up your seed orders in person. Michael is usually around
and likes to meet fellow ginseng growers.