I've been curious about growing Ginseng for some time, but hadn't really researched into it until after recently seeing some of the ginseng fields up in the Wausau WI area, which prompted me to look into it. My wife and I have thought about giving it a try. Most of our land is currently agricultural in use, but we just so happen to have an approximately 1/2 acre section between two tree lines that is east facing and gently sloped. It's more hassle to work than its worth, so for years it's just been wild growth/weeds really. It's not shaded quite enough, so it would require construction of a shade structure come spring time.
So from my reading, first thing it would seem now is to test soil pH and calcium level, and bolster calcium level if needed and adjust pH if needed?
Working up the soil is no problem, but I would probably have to devise a way to form the hills. It looks like harvesting could be a pain without the hills, but also not necessarily required are they? I would use straw as the covering layer as I have half a barn mow full of straw at the moment.
It looks like for 1/4 acre I should expect to use approximately 5lb of seed?
Would it be recommended to kill all existing vegetation in this instance with roundup prior to working the soil?
Where does one find out more about any pesticides etc? It seems cultivated ginseng is more closely monitored and sprayed, but I've not seen much material on exactly what to look for or what to spray.
Any information or resources you can provide or point me to would be appreciated. We are quite seriously considering giving this a shot. I think a 1/4 acre should be manageable to start with despite the fact it puts me at a point where investing in specialized equipment isn't worth it, but large enough to be slightly annoying without it. If the first 2 years look to go well, we would then consider adding on another 1/4 acre or half acre to expand further. If anyone else out there's tried smaller scale cultivated, I'd love to hear/see what you used for equipment and processes.
Well I do not want to be discouraging but I would not try to grow cultivated ginseng. It's very costly and should be left up to the experts. Your equipment, shade cloth, structure and pesticide/fungicide cost would more than likely far exceed your eventual potential crop profit. Talk to a grower in WI and I am confident they would agree.
If you want to try growing ginseng I would recommend you try Wild Simulated or Wild Cultivated if you have any type of woodland shade.
I know the cost of the shade cloth and cable and turnbuckles etc. Equipment costs aren't much of an issue as I have all of the equipment a normal operating small farm has - several tractors, plows, discs, springtooth, sprayer etc. etc. It just seems that cultivated ginseng uses a hill that is more around 4 foot wide. I have an older potato hilling machine and digger, but they're set up for a narrower 2 foot rows of potatoes, which is why I asked what people are using to form the larger hills - perhaps they're custom made too. 2 foot hills aren't very efficient when leaving walkways/paths for the tractors with a 6 foot tread width to drive down. The need of a digger is several years out. I also realize those machines are more customized than a potato digger (due to the smaller root of ginseng, the chains are spaced closer together) and are often custom built. I'd have no problems with fabricating a new digger to use. I've got lots of old PTO's and gearboxes etc. laying around and a full machine shop to put my engineering degree to use.
I'm looking at 1/4 acre because I happen to have that size of land that has done nothing but grow weeds for the better part of the last 10 years. If it works out I would consider scaling it up in size and rotating the plot around my 60 acres of traditional farm land. Yes, it's a small plot, but it's to test and learn before trying to go straight to the investment of say a 10 acre field of it. I am hoping to speak with some Ginseng farmers up in Wausau WI this September, but I'm trying to learn what I can about doing it as it's nearing planting time and if I don't plant this fall it'd be a rush to do it in spring or wait an entire year to give it a shot. I can have the land worked up and ready to hill in an afternoon - most of the time invested is in turning the larger equipment around in such a small field area.
So aside from investment in equipment and shade cloth, and needing to keep an eye on it to spray pesticides, fungicides etc. what sort of information does anyone have? What fertilizers work best? How much fertilizer do the cultivated crops get pushed being that pushing them hard makes them more likely to get diseased and require more spraying? UW Exchange has some information on soil prep, but does anyone have experience they would be willing to share on what they've found works etc. I've seen varying recommended seeding densities - why? Are some just planting more due to poor germination percentages? Is it tied to how long they intend the ginseng to grow with shorter harvests being planted more densely?
I figured that may be the case as the name of the site is "wild grown" lol. That said, I haven't really seen any forums etc. dedicated to cultivated, so figured I'd take a shot at asking here in case there may be a few who had done it. In fact, this is about the only ginseng specific forum I've seen so far.
I was curious about cultivated, but after a little research and time I came to conclusion that wild simulated is the best option to go with. One, its the most exciting and adventurous. Two, i can assure you it will yield a higher quality crop. Once again, just my two cents.
Welcome to the Board, StewardshipVt. This is the place for anyone that loves ginseng. Us old-timers can be a bit snooty at times. Don't let that scare you off . We need new members. So stick around. Thanks.
Thank you very much Archon. Im not going anywhere, Its in my blood at this point. Haha. Ive got a pretty good finger on the pulse in my area and plan on continuing to be active with buying, digging and stewardship.