The popularity of herbs continues to grow, especially the medicinal herbs. One of the most profitable medicinal herbs is ginseng, which has been used by both healers and ordinary folks for thousands of years. How profitable? While ginseng is a slow growing herb, after a few years of growth, it can bring as much as $600 a pound. Plus, you can make even more money with ginseng by selling the seeds and rootlets, which can be harvested and sold after about three years. These three – seeds, rootlets and mature roots – are the proven ways to make money growing ginseng.
Thousands of scientific studies have shown ginseng to be a very effective medicinal herb. Ginseng is used to treat a wide variety of illnesses, increase vitality, boost the immune and nervous system, reduce cholesterol and more. The ginseng grown in America is prized for medicinal use in Asia, as it is considered to be “Yin,” or calming.
Native American tribes have also used ginseng for centuries, and the early European settlers began to harvest and export wild ginseng to China in the early 1700s. By 1776, the export trade of North American ginseng was well established, and played a large part in financing the American revolution. George Washington, in his diaries, even mentioned the ginseng harvest in his native state of Virginia.
It’s important to know that ginseng matures slowly, so if you want to get rich quick, buy a lotto ticket. But patient growers can expect a big payoff in a few years when the mature roots are harvested. Let’s take a look at the numbers. If you plant just a quarter-acre of ginseng, you’ll be able to harvest seeds in the third year. A quarter-acre should produce about ten pounds of seeds by the third year, and then around twenty-five pounds in the fourth year. By the fifth and sixth years, your could expect around fifty pounds from that quarter-acre.
Currently, ginseng seed is selling for around $150 a pound, so your quarter acre could bring in $20,000 over a three year harvest period. In the sixth year, you should be able to harvest about 200-300 pounds of mature ginseng roots. While root prices have been steadily climbing in recent years, let’s be conservative, and estimate you only are able to sell your ginseng for $300 a pound, and only harvest 200 pounds. That still totals $60,000, plus seed sales of $20,000 over three years, for a total of $80,000 from a quarter-acre, or $13,000 per year.
As your ginseng grows, be sure to take care of it. Keep brush thinned to ensure good air circulation around the ginseng plants. Don’t fertilize, as it can cause the ginseng roots to grow too fast. The natural leaf mold on the forest floor is all the nutrition a ginseng plant needs. Most ginseng diseases, such as Alternaria blight, are caused by poor air circulation or overcrowding. A generous spacing of seeds at planting time will create a healthier growing environment and bigger roots.
Finally…you’re ready to harvest the mature ginseng roots, but where do you sell them? There are plenty of options, because of the strong demand year after year for American ginseng. You can sell it to local buyers or ginseng brokers. Every ginseng-growing state requires that ginseng buyers be licensed by the state, so you can get a buyer list from your state. I’ve listed this information for every state in my new book, Growing Ginseng For Profit. In addition to in-state buyers, some growers prefer to work with out-of-state ginseng buyers who purchase for the Asian export market, as prices can be higher there.
Ginseng is easily the most profitable medicinal herb for small growers. It’s ideal for patient growers who can wait a few years for the big payoff. If you’d like to explore growing this lucrative herb, read Growing Ginseng For Profit.