Ginseng's Environmental Requirements
The best Ginseng is cultivated under specific conditions the closely parallel that of its natural habitat. Ginseng requires only twenty percent sunlight which means it needs to be in natural or artificial shade during seventy to ninety percent of its growth period. The plant thrives in a vastly cold climates that average fifty degrees fahrenheit with forty to fifty inches of precipitation annually. Ginseng can only achieve adequate dormancy after several weeks in a cold climate.
Ginseng typically prefers loose, loamy soil that is over twelve inches deep and has been well drained. The plantís soil needs to be nutrient rich with highly organic contents and a pH level that tends to stay nearest the 5.5. When Ginseng is cultivated in exceptionally sandy soil the roots produced will be of inferior quality. Ginseng is extremely difficult to cultivate.
Seed Preparation and Germination
Almost all Ginseng crops are grown from the plant's seeds and not from seedlings or root clippings. Plus, seeds are the most inexpensive method to begin a Ginseng plantation and effectively aid in prevention of soil-borne diseases that are native to new plantations. It is necessary for Ginseng to cultivate for three to five years to reach maximum maturity in order to produce a harvestable crop that can be marketed. (read How to Prepare Seedbed)
Not to mention, Ginseng seeds are dormant for eighteen months meaning that freshly harvested seed is not ideal for beginning a plantation. These seeds need to be stratified for at least eighteen months and ideally should be over twenty two months before they can be utilized for cultivation. The stratification process includes soaking the fresh seed in formaldehyde solution that is in a fungicide and then following the soak up with a burial of the seeds outdoors in moistened sand. Seed is usually pre-stratified at purchase but be sure to ask your dealer (read How to Purchase Ginseng). Pre-stratified seed only needs to be treated with the fungicide and then sown. Never allow your seed to dry out before, during, or after seeding. The American Ginseng Culture in the Arid Climate of British Columbia contains a highly detailed guide on seed stratification. Good luck cultivating your new Ginseng crop!