A Tour Of Schumacher Ginseng's Operation

The process of producing the highest quality ginseng at Schumacher Ginseng begins many years prior to the final product being packaged and shipped to our customers. Five years before the roots will be harvested from a patch of land the first step of plowing the very fertile, almost virgin soil where the new garden will be seeded is done. The choice of land is very crucial in producing a healthy crop and eventually the high quality ginseng that we at Schumacher Ginseng have become known for. Searching for new land that can produce this type of ginseng is an ongoing process since once a crop of ginseng has been harvested from a particular piece of land, ginseng can never again be planted on that same field.

Once the land has been worked for one or two years the mineral rich soil is ready to support the highly treasured crop of Wisconsin ginseng. Posts are set in the ground to support the shade structure that will eventually be erected to protect the seedling plants that will emerge the following spring. Beds are then plowed and the ginseng seed is planted. A layer of straw is spread over the seed beds to protect the very delicate ginseng seeds from the heat of the sun and wind which can cause the seeds to dry out. The garden is then ready to withstand the first of its Wisconsin winters.

The warmth of the following spring will cause the seeds to "shoot out" and the tiny seedling plants will emerge from the seeds planted the prior fall. Sections will be used to cover the gardens and provide the shade that is necessary to grow ginseng.  Over the course of the summer the seedling plants will grow and reach a height of only 3 inches. Constant care and weeding is necessary to make sure that the seedlings survive their first year. At the end of their first summer of growth the ginseng plants will go dormant and a new layer of straw will be spread over the beds to protect the tiny roots from the wrath of a Wisconsin winter.

The second year will once again see the plants emerge about the middle of May as the temperatures begin to climb into the upper 60's and lower 70's.  As the plants grow and become older the risk of disease and other problems related to producing a high quality ginseng root increases. Constant care and scouting of the gardens is of the utmost importance.

The third year of growth will see the plants and roots almost double in size. The plants will now reach a height of 10 to 14 inches and will mature and produce a harvestable crop of seed if left to develop. We determine the amount of seed that is necessary and then "nip" (remove by hand) the rest of the seed heads that will not be needed so the energy needed to produce the seed is put into the root. This is a process that we will do on our 3 and 4 year old plants. Although it is a very labor intensive and "back breaking" job, we along with our customers are rewarded with a larger root when the garden is finally harvested.

The fourth year will see the ginseng plants continue to grow as we work to maintain a healthy garden. Beginning in October the garden will be "torn down" (the shade structure removed) and the remaining straw and foilage will be scraped from the field. We will then go through and harvest the roots. Once the roots have been harvested they are placed in boxes and will go into a refrigerated building for 2 weeks. During this cooling process the percentage of sugars and starches in the roots will change the same as would occur in the ground as the ground cools and the winter sets in.  These changes produce a root that is more wrinkled and the inside is very white and "chalky". This allows for a root that is much easier to slice and use by the consumer.

The roots are then removed from the cooler and washed and placed in a kiln dryer where the humidity and temperature are precisely controlled to produce the "perfect dry". The drying process takes about 10 to 14 days depending on the size of the roots. Once the roots are dry they go through a quality inspection process to remove any dirt or damaged roots. From there they are packaged and shipped to our many customers throughout the United States. The conclusion to many years of work and worrying to produce the highest quality product for our very treasured customers.