Wisconsin Ginseng : Environmental Standards Mandatory For Its Growth

Posted by Jack Kason on March 20th, 2017

For nearly 300 years, the small perennial known as American Ginseng has been a healer, magic talisman, and major U.S. botanical export. Hunted to the point of exhausting wild stands, it has become more mystic as it has grown more elusive.

Still, fetching hundreds of dollars per pound in the Orient and offering the promise of long life vitality, packets of long American Medium 4oz X 3 Ginseng have long been heralded as having numerous healing properties in many Asian cultures, as well as in herbal medicine. Wisconsin ginseng, thanks to central Wisconsin’s ideal soil conditions, has a reputation for being the best in the world.

How Wisconsin Became the leading Producer of Ginseng?

In 1904, the four Fromm brothers from the Wisconsin township of Hamburg, near Wausau, transplanted 100 wild ginseng plants from nearby forests onto a plot of their land and carefully duplicated the natural growth conditions. The perseverance of these early ginseng growers and the ideal growth conditions in Marathon County have made it the ginseng capital of the United States, producing approximately 10% of the world's supply of ginseng root. More than 90% of the cultivated ginseng grown in the United States is grown in Wisconsin, and 90 to 95% of Wisconsin-grown ginseng is produced in Marathon County.

Ginseng is a profitable crop, but it requires an enormous commitment of time, money and labor for successful commercial production. Ginseng beds in Wisconsin are cultivated under strict environmental conditions such as:

A. Climate:

Ginseng grows best under conditions that simulate its natural habitat. It requires 70% to 90% natural or artificial shade. Ginseng thrives in a climate with 40 to 50 in. of annual precipitation, an average temperature of 50 F & requires several weeks of cold temperatures for adequate dormancy.

B. Soil:

Ginseng generally prefers a loamy, deep, well-drained soil with a high organic content with a pH of about 5.5.

C. Seed Preparation and Germination:

Most ginseng crops are started from seed, rather than roots or seedlings. This is the least expensive way to start a plantation and may help prevent the introduction of soil-borne diseases to new plantations. Ginseng requires 3 to 5 years to produce a marketable crop from seed.

As there is an 18 month seed dormancy, freshly harvested seed cannot be used for starting a crop. It must be stratified for 18 to 22 months before planting. Seed stratification involves soaking the seed in a formaldehyde solution and in a fungicide, then burying the seed outdoors in moist soil.

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Jack Kason

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Jack Kason
Joined: November 10th, 2016
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