Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE03-498.
With funding from the SARE program, the goal for this project was to carefully document all of the activities as well as any problem associated with propagating locally sourced ginseng plants for seed. With assistance from Penn State, this information was used to generate basic guidelines and budget information for forest farmers interested in growing (and conserving) ginseng through forest nursery seed production and sale. SARE funds received for this project were used to cover labor costs associated with establishment of privately-owned ginseng seed nursery (incorporated December 2003 as ‘Pennsylvania Mountain Ginseng’ or PMG). Funds were also used to pay for costs associated with five public outreach events.
At the time of this final report (December 2006), the PMG forest nursery consists of nine raised beds containing approximately 3,000 ginseng plants. Additionally, several acres of forest with minimum site alteration/preparation contain an additional 7,000 plants. This collection comprises 30 accessions from 8 countries in Pennsylvania, with bulk of the accessions coming from Central Pennsylvania forest lands.
Observations of transplant success, growth and seed yield were made during 2003-2006. These observations suggest that while seed production may be enhanced through use of raised beds and soil amendments, these methods also tend to promote disease and pestilence resulting in significant losses. Ginseng planted in un-altered forest conditions tended to produce seed more reliably, primarily through minimizing disease and pest problems, than plants grown in bed with amendments. Based on this project, those who would grow ginseng for seed are advised to either adopt a “wild-stimulated” production method or be prepared to aggressively attend to pest problems (likely requiring use of pesticides, particularly fungicides).