I think we have already discussed the more likely reason that some state's ginseng is valued higher than are others or particular sections within a state. Quality. That's it. No more no less. If all quality were the same, then supply and demand would have a more basic effect. As it is, supply and demand must be broken down withing quality ranges.
For instance, I live in the section of the state with the poorest quality ginseng. However, I buy most of my ginseng from other areas. The stuff that grows around here is worth less than the stuff that grows a couple hours southeast in the edge of the Appellations.
I don't think it's that simple. Sure soils and other growing conditions are going to impact it. The dark rich soils in the Oh valley are obviously fertile. Remember, KY has some of that fertile soil in that area, too. Kentucky has quality root, not just quantity. A big problem is digger education, which the managing agency will have a greater push on this for harvesters starting next year.
And on that, if diggers couldn't sell the poor root (the broken up ones, smaller, etc), ie if the market talked, that would help Kentucky's ginseng reputation, too. And yes, I get a little defensive about Kentucky root. It's what I'm paid to represent.
Thanks to this forum and others on the web and the increased knowledge from state officials, you will see better quality root coming out of Kentucky.
Oh, I don't disagree with you at all. If diggers only harvested heavier roots and left the others grow, there would be a reduction in supply and at the same time an increase in quality.
Handling is a major issue. Delivering high quality roots handled correctly and appealing to the market is what you can do. The quality characteristics you can't do a whole lot about if you are limited to digging in a particular section.
Some sections are more appealing to the market than are others. I\"m not certain fertility is where it is as much as color at this point. (certainly fertility will increase the size of the roots in a shorter length of time)
One other thing, just because a plant has three prongs, or the root has five neck scars and is therefore legal, doesn't mean it should be harvested. Guys and gals, if you start to dig a root (regardless of 3, 4 or even 5 prongs) if the root is too small...just cover it back up and wait a year or two to dig it. Those small roots lesson the quality and value of your lot and that of the area and state too. Those legal plants with small roots are much more valuable right where they are making seed.