Now boys & girls...this is as about as good as it gets in at least the southeast 1/4 of IN. where I've hunted. The 3 prong shown has a stem/stalk not even as thick as a pencil lead (ok, maybe barely) but...the neck scars in the previous pics show that it's umpteen years old. Even good 2 prongers can and often are over 10 yrs. old. So..the 3 prong w/ berries law is, well...not really well rooted (couldn't resist that one !)
Those are some nice roots I realy like the old one with the double bulb a man has to know his area and it seems to me that you do,it realy doesnt matter when it comes time to sell the root just how big the steam and top where that the root was attached to,what matters is that it was mature and old enough to harvest I understand what you are saying in your area,
I've found a 4 prong only a cpl. of times in my life. Once, a 3 prong that was an honest 3 feet off the ground, but had just an avg. root. Other than that, I've noticed 'seng here tends to be low to the ground and often the stalk grows sideways, like Virginia Creeper, before the leaves of ea. prong point up at the sky. Then, the entire plant is only a few inches off the ground. I've trained my eye here to look BELOW the leaves of other plants, not knee high.
**Cool today along the Ohio River Valley where I live. Over-cast and a high of 70 !! Good day to git in tha woods. Alas...the storm left a tree limb across my driveway so I have a date with Stihl, then takin' the pup dove huntin' this afternoon as it's not long till duck season (so it seems) and she needs the field work.