The Steps for Growing American Ginseng

Before

#1 – Land – Look for land with a slight slope, make sure that ginseng has not been grown on this land before. “45th parallel is where we grow ginseng at Hsu’s”. We are constantly on the lookout for parcel’s of property to rent or lease.

 

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This map shows shows what typical plots of land in Marathon County look like. Highlighted in Orange, ginseng fields can be found by their black shade covering.

#2 – Soil Preparation – Raise the beds in mounds, will allow for tractors to access the fields. Beds being raised up in mounds will also help prevent roots from disease such as root rot etc

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Tractors have come through to raise the beds and hay has been laid down for additional protection in the Spring

#3 – Seed – Seed is stratified for one year (helps with germination rate/success of crop coming up), placed in the ginseng field (beds/mounds) with a tractor.

Word of the day: “Stratified” – (verb) – to place (seeds) close together in layers in moist sand or peat to preserve them or to help them germinate.

#4 – Shade Structure – 65 percent shade with wooden racks/70 percent shade with tarps.  Helps keep ginseng plants alive, as they need shade in order to survive.  Shade structure is held up by adding 9 foot high posts in garden which help keep the tarp/racks up.

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This photo is a great example of how the shade fabric gets put up, however, this photo was actually taken from 2010, when a large summer storm knocked down most of the shade fabric from our ginseng gardens.

During

#5 – Weeding – Weeding is done multiple times a year. Everything is weeded by hand to help eliminate some of the undergrowth/weeds which cam effect how the ginseng is grown.

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#6 – Collect Seeds – Seeds are collected from 3-4 year old ginseng plants. They are picked by hand in August/September when the green seeds become a red ripe color. Seeds are then de-pulped and stratified for one year to help with the germination process for next year garden.

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#7 – Harvest – Harvest season is normally done in October, or before we incur too cold of weather (as we try to leave the roots in the ground as long as possible before we harvest them). All roots are dug up by a tractor and picked by hand/with a tractor.

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Harvesting starts by taking a modified potato digger to the raised ginseng beds. What doesn’t get picked up by our motorized equipment will be picked by hand.

After

#8 – Cooling – After the roots are dug up by hand they are brought to a large cooler. The roots are cooled for 2-3 weeks. By cooling the roots it makes them easier for us to slice, as well as brings out the sugars and carbohydrates in the roots to give them a nice flavor.

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Freshly dug ginseng is categorized by a field (or lot) number and is placed in the cooler

#9 – Wash – The roots are then removed from the cooler and put on a conveyor belt, and are washed.  This cleans the roots and gets them ready for the drying process.

#10 – Dry – The roots are then put in a kiln for 10-14 days which they are rotated every couple days.  This allows for the roots to obtain a nice wrinkle, and absorbs about 95% of the water out of the root so it will stay good for up to 3 years.

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Ginseng Roots Dried and inspected in our kilns

#11 – Grading – Roots are then barreled and sent off to be graded.  We grade about 26 different grades in the United States and about 40 different grades in China. The prongs and fiber are also removed from the root and graded as well.

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Graded Ginseng Roots in Barrels – did they pass the test? Each root is unique, but grading allows for consistent sizing and packaging.

#12 – Packaging – Once the roots are graded they are all individually packaged by hand. They are put in a nice Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprise box and are ready for sale.

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