First off, I\"m a bit hesitant to comment on this subject of commercial seed berry production vs non-commercially available seed. But, I've considered it carefully and taken some observations into account and think it would be ok for me to throw in my two cents for what they are worth.
Everyone here knows I sell seed. So, when a few respected growers suggest that they are having poor results from plants that were grown from commercially available seed right next to a native strain plant, this was somewhat perplexing to me (if I had the correct understanding).
I thought back to a time when I had every small plat marked and knew where every plant in my experimental gardens were from. I noted the plants from Wisconsin and New York seed seemed to come up about the same time before anything else. They seemed to have about the same degree of disease resistance -very little. The plants from seed out of the mid southern states seemed to come up next, and had much better disease resistance. The seed from the Canadian strains I currently plant and sell, came up next, and had/have moderate to good disease resistance. But, the plants from native strain seed (legally harvested roots put into a raised bed at home for observation and seed collection) came up last and seemed to be the most hardy of them all. They also seemed to have the best disease resistance.
So, to some extent, this seems to agree with all your observations.
But, another point should be considered. That being that the larger, more mature plants seem to go down earliest in the fall. I went and checked on my patches yesterday and cut the tops like many of you do just before the digging season arrives. I must say, this is an exceptional year for seeing ginseng. In a relatively small area, I filled a feed sack with harvested tops from my beds. I'm sure I could have cut half again as much if I had had more time. I concentrated on legal to harvest plants and particularly the large plants near the paths and roads through the woods.
All of these plants were grown from the same seed from the same source. However, I noticed that there were very few seeds still on the plants. Most had already fallen off. Not all to be sure, as there were some impressive balls of crimson red berries to plant. But there were many more on the ground that only needed pushing into the ground.
I\"m not arguing this point, just offering another grower's perspective.
I really wonder if a plant grown from commercial seed -which has been suggested is many generations removed from its natural character- could survive to maturity at all if there was really that much difference in the plant once the seed is planted. I mean think of it this way. If commercially available seed produced plants that 1) had difficulty producing seed and 2) was dependent upon pampered care and did not do well in the woods, we would simply have no seed and almost no ginseng at all, and we would never see commercially available seed producing plantings and stands of self-seeding plants like I observed yesterday.
You all have seen the pictures of the roots I've posted from my woods grown and wild sim plots. Those look nothing like the roots of the mother plants which bore the seed from which they came. If commercial seed was all that frail and the resulting plants could not adapt to a natural setting, how could this have happened? I don't think it could have.
Again, not arguing, just offering my own perspective as a grower
i think over time a plant will adjust to the area it is being grown in,and seed from that will be more like the plants that are native to the area,after all they are all of north american ginseng origin.
If you live in the more southerly states just make sure that you plant on the cool north and east sides of the mountain. Plant in locations with good slopes and drainage. Like Maya says. Find the richest, loosest and loamiest soil to plant your seed in. This is almost a must for cultivated seed.