Local farmers prepare for coming snow

Published: May. 9, 2020 at 6:27 PM CDT
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When ginseng farmers prepare for snow there's many decisions to be made. But one of the most important decisions is what to do with your covering. Local ginseng farmers Will Hsu and Terry Witberler say it depends on what it's made of.

"Being with a wood garden it can actually with hold more snow load versus a tarp garden. But most guys that got their tarp gardens closed are probably open them back up already right now," Witberler said.

"Now you have this hard decision with what you're going to do. Are you going to go back through and take the shade off and roll it up? Or are you going to run the risk of having the snow collapse it if we potentially get a lot of snow," Hsu added.

Ginseng farmers have faced this predicament before. The snow over Mother's Day in 2010 is a reminder why you can't take any storm too lightly.

"Yields after that snow storm were terrible for the next three or four years. That's because this is a multi-year crop. So those shades collapsing impacted the next three to four years," Hsu explained.

Ginseng can take up to five years to mature, so farmers can't afford to make any mistakes before harvest.

"So it's a big deal, you basically got to baby these for three to four years and you know hope for the best. That's all you can do," Witberler said.

But the farmers bother know how tough ginseng can be. If the snowfall is minimal, they know the plants will be fine.

"So the worst case scenario would be ice and very heavy snow accumulations. The best case scenario would be a trace amount of snow, and the plants will weather that," Hsu stated.

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