DIGGING THE ROOT OF AMERICAN GINSENG
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DIGGING THE ROOT OF AMERICAN GINSENG

DIGGING THE ROOT OF AMERICAN GINSENG




      

DIGGING THE ROOT OF AMERICAN GINSENG


DIGGING THE ROOT OF AMERICAN GINSENG

By Dr. Walter Van Fleet

The cured root is valued by the Chinese largely according to its size and maturity. The best qualities of proper age break with a somewhat soft and waxy fracture. Young and undersized roots dry hard and glassy and are regarded as less desirable. Very small roots and root fibers often realize less than a dollar a pound, while those of the proper size and quality sell readily at top quotations. Cultivated roots as a rule attain greater size than wild ones of the same age, but lack density of substance until well past the fifth year of development.

Beds should rarely be dug for market until the sixth year, and should then be taken up solidly and the undersized roots replanted or securely heeled in until time to plant in the spring. Good roots should run nearly 4 inches long, half an inch in thickness below the crown, and average about an ounce in weight in the fresh state.

Roots may be dug at any time after growth ceases in September, but mid-October is regarded as the most favorable time. They should be carefully washed or shaken free of all adhering soil, but not scraped, as it is important to preserve the natural dusky color of the skin with its characteristic annular markings.

Curing is best effected in an airy room heated to about 80 degrees F. by a stove or furnace. The roots are spread on lattice trays and are frequently examined and turned, but must always be handled gently to avoid breaking the forks or marring the surface. It requires nearly a month of drying to cure the larger roots properly, but the heat may well be diminished toward the end of the process except in noticeably damp weather. In all stages of curing particular care should be taken to see that the root does not mold or sour, as any defect will greatly depress the selling price. On the other hand, overheating should be avoided, as it tends to discolor the surface and spoil the texture of the interior. Once well cured, the roots should be stored in a dry and airy place, secure from vermin, until ready for sale.

Fur, News. Fur News, January 1916.

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