The problem with more regulations is they lead to more regulations and before you know it youve legistated yourself out of something you love. some years back age limits for export where placed artifically drove up the price and caused more harm then good one size fits all regulations are a bad idea any way because growing seasons are not the same everywhere, digging should be determined by when the seeds mature the selling season is the only part that should be universal.In my opinion a seed planting program is the best way to insure ginsengs future.laws like in ky its illegal to carry seeds more than 50feet before planting so if im digging just past a mountain top removal I most break that law or let those seed get stripmined away and cant leagally move any plants under five yearsold even to save them. the main point being differnt parts of the country need laws that work specificaly for them. Alabamas not minnesota and coal land is not farmland.
I will have to say that Leesbros reply is the closest statement to my feelings that I have seen on this subject. You can complain about Reality tv shows and that won't fix the problem. You can complain about Unethical dealers who sell small roots. That won't fix the problem. You can complain about dealers who buy roots dug too early in the season and that won't help the problem. You can try to adjust the digging season and that won't fix the problem. A seed planting program will help with the problem.
You can't get the US Forest Service to even talk to you, so the only thing that is left is to be imaginative with your planting, while digging. I know that it might cost a little each year to buy some seeds, but it is better than losing the program altogether. These are my thoughts and they have been my actions for a few years. I hope some of you adopt some \"progressive techniques\" this coming season.
I totally agree with the seed planting and I have been doing this for twenty years.
I've planted seed in places that I've never been back to.
The real problem is you still have that 10% of idiots out there digging it up as soon as it comes up and never has a chance to produce berries.
I don't know why any dealer would buy under age roots since there is no market for them and any dealer caught having such roots would be fined.
I'm sure that you and quite a few others that love this plant have done more than your fair share at helping to keep the numbers of plants at a better level than they would have been if you had not made some efforts. You're right about those that will take advantage of whatever they can find at any time of the year.
I know that I have had to try to make the best of the situation that I have encountered where diggers have brought small roots into buyers. The buyer had a bunch of small roots that were illegal for him to buy. I told him if he would give them to me I would take them back to the mountains and replant them, which I did. He also had some that were between 5-8 years old that he sold to me because he knew that I wanted to start a patch that would produce seeds to replant in the mountains. I planted those rootlets and this past year they came up as 3 Prongs and produced a crop of berries. They were about the only ones that I had that set a crop because they bloomed later than what I had bought commercially. That first crop of berries all went back into the mountains and they will each year in the future. At this point I don't see any other way to save the ginseng program than to keep making trips to the mountains with as many berries or seeds as you can afford to plant. I can plant them faster than the poachers can dig them if I get a little help here and there. I'll keep on planting and try to work on the other problems as I am able to.
Hugh, that's a good point. Like Rootman said, I've been doing it for years. I should get back to a few of these places and see how they are doing. I do have one spot that is next to a road I go down almost daily. I stop at least once a year and it's doing pretty good. I planted about 50 seeds there over a couple years and there is about 25-30 little guys coming up.
Bcastle, what do you mean selling green will not catch on?
Well, green ginseng is a perishable vegitable. You know that you will lose weight, and have a strong possibility of losing material as well if you try to keep it in its fresh state. The cost of keeping it that way and protecting it is much greater than handling dry ginseng.
Once dry, the changes in weight aren't as drastic. It might go down, but might go up also depending on humidity etc., but not very much overall. This is the reason that prices for fresh root is so high lately, because the risks associated with it are much larger.
Additionally, the variation of weight from fresh as bought by the dealer to dry as the dealer certifies the ginseng, is not always consistent. I can only speak to my state's program, but they use a formula to judge if you have enough paper when you certify ginseng. This year for instance I had some ginseng that dried at about 4.2:1 and other which dried at about 2.8:1. Now, if the state uses 3.5:1 as their method what happens when I come in with paper that says I bought 10 lbs of green, but show them about 3.57 lbs (2.8:1)? They would expect to see 2.86 lbs for 10 lbs of fresh paper. The obvious question is where did I get the other pound of ginseng?
For this reason, I know there is some pressure to ban the sale of fresh root all together. This way, if a dealer has 10 lbs of paper, he should be able to show up with 10 lbs give or take an ounce or so of root to certify.
Like anything else buying only green ginseng would have a few problems but it would sure cut out a lot of poaching and digging to early and actually help save our ginseng.
Dealers would need drying rooms for roots they didn't sell for green but at least the roots could be dried properly and not have to worry about someone's roots that may have been baked or microwaved.
As far as the green weight to dry, Ky's ratio is 3 to 1 but you will come up a little light at that when it's dry but if you keep dry ginseng very long you will lose a half ounce or more to the pound.
I think it could really work and benefit the ginseng population and isn't that what we are after.
Makes sense BC. I just thought if the only thing that could be sold to buyers would be green it would cut out the yahoo's digging early. I understand it may be tough on buyers, but from a diggers standpoint they would have to get there but in gear and get to the buyers as soon as it was dug. That also makes sense.
I think starting a seeding program with plants native to the area would insure a better chance for survival but any seeds are better than none .In response to fears that the gene pool maybe deluted ,who knows how far birds deer and other animals can carry seed naturally anyway and from reading this forum I see lots of us my self incuded have already started our own seeding program anyway so there going to get spread naturally so why not take it to the next level and start a nation wide program. I belive second or third generation plants from cultivated seed would essentally be the same as wild anyway.
The studies I've been reading of late (inturrepted working on a project for my customers), and I'm still just a bit over halfway done, suggests that geographically isolated populations of ginseng tend to develop a very slightly different genetic fingerprint. And, there does seem to be a unique genetic marker in some wild populations. The US Fish & Wildlife folks are currently conducting some studies to see if they can differentiate cultivated from wild root through a test.
Now, that said, ginseng is like every other plant in that genetic diversity is not necessarily detrimental. In fact, most of the studies seem to take the position that genetic diversity is necessary for species survival. Ginseng, like other plants, show some \"hybrid vigor\" in their f1 crosses, but negative traits could also be passed on. The question then becomes if the unique marker discovered in some populations of wild ginseng justify forcing those populations to remain isolated, and indeed does it justify the prohibition or depression of planting efforts which could dilute that one genetic marker? In other words, does one genetic marker -which to my knowledge at this point has no beneficial purpose other than academic and as an identifier- warrant less planting of readily (relatively speaking) available seed from other populations of the same species? I'm leaning to suggest it does not. We have national and state parks and preserves where collecting ginseng is prohibited now. These are the places to preserve this genetic marker in those populations where it exists for further research. I would also argue that planting seed -any viable ginseng seed- is better than planting none. I know that the cultivated seed I sell and plant turns into some of the wildest stuff I've seen if given time and any form of growth enhancement is avoided.
On a seperate note, I did read one study by Furedi and McGraw (2004), which looked at the role deer play in ginseng seed dispersal. Of all the ginseng seeds eaten by deer, none survived the trip through the deer's digestive system. Combining this fact and the unanticipated high browse rate by the deer in the study, and the authors have labeled white-tailed deer as ginseng preditors...not dispursors.
Another interesting tidbit I've picked up but have been so far unable to locate the documentation, is that the 'wild' ginseng being studied in Ohio which has been genetically tested, shared genetic traits/markers with ginseng from Wisconsin cultivated strains. I understand that this is true for Pennsylvania also. Now, this suggests one of two possibilities. First, that the seemingly wild ginseng growing in Ohio was planted decades ago from seed obtained from the commercial ginseng population in Wisconsin. The second possibility, is that the seed which started the cultivated fields in Wisconsin came from wild plants in Ohio.