CHARLESTON - West Virginia's ginseng digging season kicked off Sunday, and sengers are out in the woods in search of the profitable plant.
The native herb grows in all of the state's 55 counties and sold for an average of $508 per pound in 2012. It takes about 300 roots to make a pound of ginseng. State Forester Randy Dye said that more than 4,700 pounds was harvested last season, which was a 4% decline from the previous year. Dye said ginseng also generated about two million dollars towards the state's economy.
Ginseng plants are ready to be harvested when the berries are red. The plant is dug out of the ground and it's roots removed. State law requires anyone digging ginseng to replant the berries from the parent plant in the spot that it was harvested to help continue the species. Federal regulations set the minimum age a plant can be harvested at five years, only plants with three or more prongs are considered old enough to harvest.
The following laws also apply to ginseng harvesting:
- Anyone digging ginseng on someone else's property must carry written permission from the landowner allowing him or her to harvest ginseng on the property.
- No permit is needed to dig wild ginseng.
- Digging ginseng on public lands, including state forests, wildlife management areas or state parks, is prohibited.
- Diggers have until March 31 of each year to sell to a registered West Virginia ginseng dealer or have roots weight-receipted at one of the Division of Forestry weigh stations.
- Possession of ginseng roots is prohibited from April 1 through August 31 without a weight-receipt from the DOF.
- The ginseng digging season runs through November 30.
A list of registered dealers for the 2013-2014 season are available in the ginseng section of www.wvforestry.com