Wild Ginseng Market Prices 2008
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Matt
Posted on: March 10, 2008

I’m Matt, from eastern tennesse, and I like to wildcraft because I enjoy nature, the knowledge of plants and their habitats, and being able to participate in nature for exercise and small personal income, without doing any damage to the flora/fauna and environment.

My question is: For the past few years, i have seen wild ginseng go from 250$ a pound, up to about 320$ a pound. Then, in the middle of spring last year after nice warm weather, a prolonged freeze hurt alot of the country, also devastating orange crops and making the price of citrus soar also I believe. Anyhow, this hurt the ginseng season and made the season very short and limited.

Prices started out from 360$ - 450$ a pound. Then after a few months passed, it was up to 850$ a pound and going higher, this being for mixed batches of wild roots, prices going directly to the harvester from small scale buyers.

I’m not sure where to check current prices or forecast prices for the 2008 season. Will the market come down next year if regular weather occurs, or will it still remain relatively high considering the ever-increasing demand, the diminishing national supply of wild ginseng, and the over-all inflation of the dollar.

After a good year, it would be very dissappointing to wild ginseng harvesters to only recieve 300-425$ a pound instead of 800$+. I would like to hear your opinion on the current situation.

Also, I like your herb marketing Q&A. But, since not many frequent questions get asked, its rough to sort out through an alphebetical list and find questions dating back 10 years old. I Think a listing by time of date would be better, so people can browse the more recently asked questions first rather than old and new mixed, or make the list all 4-year recent asked questions, and put the older questions in a backlog list further down the page. Just a friendly suggestion, you can edit this paragraph out when posting an answer to my question.

It is a pleasure to get someone who knows how to ask the right questions. My academic backgrounds and 35 years in the trade, has left me very opinionated in this trade. As a visionary, I also see forest farming ultimately replacing wildcrafting, and the extinction of variations and cultivars. As such, I will be wildcrafting more than 100 truckloads of Ponderosa Pine in May.

In other words, I also see wildcraft ginsengs being somewhat like "selling homes on the current market" -- way overpriced, speculative, and NOT a fair trade of value. When I was in grad school, we always went by "best buy," not cheapest. Wildcrafted ginseng will never be able to compete with 4-year old forest farmed ginsengs, price for price, pound for pound.

Certainly, a 35 year old root is absolutely worth 10x that of 4 year old root, selling at $26/lb. But 850? That’s crazy, like they try and sell homes. The Chinese have come in to ruin specific markets by this form of speculation. They do the same thing out here where I live with Matsutake mushrooms (open and closed veil).

As a small farm community advocate, I promote the idea of rural land use. But a 35 year old ginseng plant is considered "endangered" on my shopping list -- and I don’t sell Komodo Dragons either. (metaphor). No one can make a living on that, only "loan sharks." What do the other 40 men in that local community harvest?

Forest farming crops makes far more sense, and has a sustainable future.

As to dating older comments from the Q/A section, in fact I found the best questions were asked in the earlier part of 90s (deeper responses). There was an excitement about "going back to the country," and somehow supplementing rural incomes via a lifestyle. In the year 2030, the Mid-West will again be rural communities, but acting more like neighborhoods.

It is not about "how much money" you can make, but rather a way of living. Like fishing, it is not about "how much I was able to sell the house." Wrong thinking, and will serve no one in the end.


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