If you have deer as you say, they may be eating the plants. Same with the rabbits, I suppose.
They may come back if they had a good start this year. Any time from mid summer on, they can have stored enough energy to last till the next year. Now I am talking about healthy developed plants. If you are talking about new sprouts, that is a different story and they could be done for.
What does the rest of your woods look like? Are the deer keeping everything eaten off or is there lots of regeneration of young trees from shoulder height down? If there are too many deer and they are just eating everything in sight, you may have a real problem trying to establish a good patch. If that is your problem, you can put up fencing to keep the deer out or at least try to cover the sang with brush so the deer can't get at it.
Maybe someone else can add to this or perhaps have better information then I do. Good luck.
When you are having an animal problim such as this,watch for the tops to start up at the beggining of season,when they do just cut the tops off of the 1 and 2 year old tops,and the 3rd year you can let them grow whether the deer eat the tops or not and they will remain comming up,because they will have strong root and only the tops will be eaten.As Dieselrider said new plants are probily destroyed,but if you use my method of topping they will not be destroyed after the 3rd time up,the root will hold
Deiselrider first I want to say that I would only do this for 1st and 2nd year plants,that I had record of to be sure they where that young is important,because older will live..
3ed year will stay no matter the varment problim,even if the leaves are eaten,becaue the root will not pull from the ground.
If the problim is deer I would top the plants as soon as the leaves begin to unfold(around spring turkey season,or Easter)because they will pull the root out as they eat the top,especialy deer,because they pull every thing they eat,instead of just chewing or biteing it off,they pull as they bite....although I truly love to hunt deer that can be a problim with them in the seng area.
Around here we do not have that problim,the deer have a vast supply of food,and dont eat alot of the seng,as I posted in another topic.I have found seng around bedding areas localy,but have had sevral friends a few countys away complain aout this same matter,
Your most common of ginseng tops dying is dry weather. This does not hurt the root. At first the small plants such as 1 and 2 prongs die off. Then, the three prongs and small four prongs die if they are in dry areas, and have smaller roots. Some of the larger plants that have big roots will stay \"up\" even if the weather is dry because their feeder roots go deeper and their larger roots have a bigger water reserve. Just look in the area's that you know you ginseng is during dry weather and if you see withered yellow ginseng tops where healthy ones used to be then you have no worries.