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Marathon County ginseng farm recovers from cold temperatures

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 4:56 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Ginseng can take up to five years to grow, which makes the crop more vulnerable to harsh temperatures than other plants.

According to CEO and Founder of Marathon Ginseng Gardens, Ming Tao Jiang, ginseng farms in Marathon County produce the most ginseng transported across the United States and other countries.

“Ginseng farming in the state of Wisconsin has been around for over 100 years,” Jiang said. “Within 50 miles of Wausau, I’m guessing there are about 150 ginseng farmers. We produce about 95% of ginseng in the U.S. So, we are known as the ginseng capitol in the country.”

Earlier this week, central Wisconsin experienced colder temperatures, which can be detrimental to what Jiang calls the “early rising” ginseng.

“We had two 80-degree days, so the ginseng thought, ‘it’s springtime, it’s time to come out,” Jiang explained. “Unfortunately, we saw another winter this past week on Monday and Tuesday. I think it was somewhere between 20 to 26 degrees. So as a consequence, mainly the younger plants that came up earlier did not survive.”

The older crop, which has been growing for over two years, Jiang explained, has a better chance of survival in harsh weather.

“For a five or four-year-old ginseng, there is some damage,” Jiang explained, “but most will survive.”

Jiang says about 25-30% of his crop were completely destroyed, but he’s grateful for the crop that is expected to make a full recovery.

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