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Virginia’s Ginseng Harvest Season Begins September 1, 2013

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced today new regulations for the harvest and purchase of wild ginseng. Wild American ginseng is listed as a threatened species in Virginia and VDACS is responsible for regulating ginseng harvest and sales in the Commonwealth.

Regulation of the Harvest and Purchase of Wild Ginseng, 2VAC5-321, is being adopted to assist in ensuring the survival of wild ginseng in the Commonwealth and address concerns expressed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the sustainability of wild ginseng in Virginia. The regulation requires that wild ginseng root is harvested only from plants which have produced fruit, the fruit has ripened and the fruit is planted by the harvester in the area where the wild ginseng was harvested. To allow adequate time for fruit ripening, the ginseng harvest will now start September 1 of each year.  Previously, the starting date for ginseng harvest was August 15.

Regulation of the Harvest and Purchase of Wild Ginseng includes the following provisions:

  • The harvest season for wild ginseng begins on September 1 and ends December 31 of each year. Wild ginseng cannot be harvested from January 1 through August 31.
  • Wild ginseng that is younger than five years of age, has fewer than four stem scars present on its rhizome or has fewer than three prongs cannot be harvested.
  • Any person who harvests wild ginseng must plant the seeds of the harvested plant at the harvest site at the time of harvest.
  • Ginseng dealers may purchase certified wild ginseng at any time throughout the year.
  • Ginseng dealers may only purchase uncertified green wild ginseng root from September 1 of each year through January 14 of the following year.
  • Ginseng dealers may only purchase uncertified dry wild ginseng root from September 15 of each year through March 31 of the following year.

The regulations regarding the harvest of ginseng do not apply to any person harvesting wild ginseng from their own land. Nonetheless, landowners are encouraged to observe the same general guidelines in order to ensure the continued, long-term viability of wild ginseng in their property.

The root of the American ginseng plant is valued as a medicinal herb. Over the past several years, approximately 4,000 pounds of ginseng roots worth about $2.5 million dollars were harvested annually in Virginia.  In 2012 the average price for a pound of wild ginseng root purchased in Virginia was $580. 
Each year about 4 million pounds of dried ginseng roots worth over $25 million are harvested in North America for shipment to Asia. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for the issuance of ginseng export permits.

Source: Virginia Department of Agriculture