Wild-simulated Ginseng Plantng Strategy
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: C. Brown
Posted on: July 06, 2007

I am the absentee owner of a tract of forested land in the eastern Ozark region of Arkansas. I am considering a multi year effort of small wild simulated plantings of ginseng. This is the extreme NE range of the Ozark Highland and is really foothills ranging from 600 to 2000 feet in elevation.

I have identified several sites on NE exposures with what I think are good indicator tree species Walnut, cherry, white ash, black oak & carolina buckthorn and am in the process of soil testing. As I am a absentee landowner I am considering a guerilla strategy of multiple small sites in different locations planted over time.

It is extremely rugged country and I am targeting small hollows for planting where the approaches require travel through regenerating group selection cuts with jungle like thick brush (machete country) so people are a minor concern. The ginseng culture as far as increased awareness/poaching is about 100 miles further east.

Most modern hunters want go where the 4 wheeler can’t and thats what I’m looking for. I would be interested in your opinion of this strategy I am thinking of 1/10th acre to 1/4 acre plantings per year.

I can help you establish a forest farming project. While I have taken early retirement, I still like to work as an outside consultant. And your project would be easy, as I have put more than 1,500 acres in similar habitats. Go to the Services section under OAK at my website

www.richardalanmiller.com

One basic flaw with your current plan is that your crop WILL be stolen by 2-legged varmints -- written in stone. Habitat and steep inclines will not stop those seeking incomes from other people’s efforts. You MUST have a caretaker, or someone who actually lives on the location. It will NOT work any other way.

The old rule of agriculture is that you always could see your fields. Those who farm in other regions from where they live becomes more like a banking effort, not real farming. If you are not there, pot growers alone will take over your land. And, if you have a cash crop, even 4-legged varmints will eat away any profit line you might have hope for with your investment.

With that said, you could also develop the crops to a point where you could then sell the land as a business. Here in the West, many are growing cascara sagrada trees on an 11-year rotation. Ginseng, as you proposed it, is a 4-year rotation. Five year old ginsengs and older roots are not worth the differences in incomes.

There are trees and other longer-termed projects, of course. And, some do not require a lot of maintenance or care. Ginseng in this form (forest farming project, rather than lathe housing) is very labor intensive. Irrigation, control from 4-legged varmints, and the occasional trespasser require constant vigilance.

I should also add, a forest farming ginseng project makes exceptional incomes for "brush apes" willing to live on-site. It’s worth more than pot, and the only legal issues are how you shot the trespasser (just kidding). Hiring someone to live on-site is a good investment. He also could become your robber, so always select someone who is honest.

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