Preserving Ginseng
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: [No Name Given]
Posted on: October 28, 1998

I would like some guidance and information on how to to preserve freshly grown ginseng. Also any information on its value and whom I can contact to possibly market.

The best source of information on commercial cultivation of american ginseng is W. Scott Persons’ book, "American Ginseng: Green Gold" (available from Richters). Persons covers all aspects of growing, harvesting, drying, and marketing ginseng. It is an essential resource for anyone contemplating getting into this crop.

According to Persons, the time to harvest ginseng is when the tops begin to die down in fall. The roots are washed in running water to remove the dirt. This can be done by hand or using a mechanical root washer. Immediately after washing the excess water is drained off and the roots are placed in a ventilated, heated room to dry. Commercial growers use sophisticated drying facilities that regulate humidity, temperature and air flow. Typically, the temperature is raised gradually during the drying process to slowly expel most of the moisture until the roots become brittle. For more details consult the book.

The book also has interesting chapters on the economics of the crop and on growing organically. The latter is important because there is increasing demand for organic ginseng.

In the past decade ginseng acreage in North America has expanded greatly. There is now an oversupply of ginseng on the market, and prices have dropped significantly. Growers are having difficulty getting more than $40 (U.S.) per kilogram dried. However, organic ginseng is commanding much more than this -- easily double this amount.

Persons includes a chapter in his book on resources including a list of buyers.

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