May 17, 2000 | By: Aimee D. Heald
LOUISVILLE, KY

People came from as far away as Alaska to learn about ginseng and goldenseal production. From May 9 to 11, in Louisville, Ky., the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture sponsored a conference to raise awareness of the two herbs potential in Kentucky and the U.S.

UK Extension Horticulture Specialist, Terry Jones was encouraged by the diverse turnout for the conference, and especially glad to see the Kentucky producers there.

Since ginseng is a threatened species, the plant populations have to be researched and monitored to make sure the population remains healthy. The conference offered workshops and presentations by experts from all over the U.S., and this year, Canada. The workshops for growers and dealers were on the first day and then there were two days of programs for the state coordinators.

Ginseng and Goldenseal are native to Kentucky and hold great potential for landowners who learn to grow, cultivate and market them the right ways.

"Part of what the workshops do is teach growers how to produce a wild simulated ginseng or organic ginseng and goldenseal, which will have a higher cash value," Jones said. "Those products have big demand not only in America and Europe, but Asian markets as well. It's something a lot of our growers could be producing and they should take advantage of it."

Jones also noted the historical significance of ginseng in the Commonwealth. He said to look back into history and study how Daniel Boone was able to pay for Boonesborough and keep Kentucky a colony. He did that by digging and shipping wild ginseng root up the river to Philadelphia. It was then carried by tea clipper ships to China. It helped early pioneers make a living and now today's Kentuckians have the opportunity to preserve that heritage.

"We have research trials at UK's Robinson Forest Research Station. We have some ginseng plants under artificial shade cloth," Jones said. "There are several grower groups that are working together to produce and market these products for specialty markets that will demand premiums. Several of the medicinal plants make beautiful landscape plants, so there's a market for that too."

Jones thinks the demand for natural, organic products is increasing. Ginseng is being used by some to increase energy and reduce stress, while Goldenseal has antibacterial properties and has been used in mouthwashes, and in topical treatments for sores and cuts.

Leslie County is a good example of the increased awareness of ginseng and other woodland botanical crops. Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Angie Begosh has been helping producers in her county test their soil and determine where they can best grow these products.

"Leslie county is largely wooded and has very few areas with flat land to use for things like corn," Begosh said. "These plants are found there naturally and so naturally it's the best place for them to grow. A lot of times people look at their forested land and think the only thing they can do is log it and harvest timber, but there are a lot of people who don't want to do that. So ginseng and goldenseal are a good way for them to use their land; this gives them more of a choice.

For more information on Ginseng and Goldenseal, contact Terry Jones (606) 666-2215, ext. 234 or your local county Extension office.

Contact: 

Terry Jones 606-666-2215, ext. 234