Warmer temperatures kick start ginseng season - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Warmer temperatures kick start ginseng season

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Warm temperatures have many farms ringing in the early ginseng growing season.

Farmers are just starting to watch their crops sprout nearly three weeks ahead of schedule. 

"They're just starting to get ready to send the shoot up," said Randy Peterson, Marathon County ginseng farmer.

Plants are starting to emerge thanks to the mild temperatures.

"The straw you see behind you is applied over the top of the plants to protect them from the cold, but once they grow through that they're susceptible to the frost," said Peterson.

Farmers said this year's ginseng crop should be doing well, but that's if the temperatures remain cool during the next month.

"If the weather stays the way it is today, it's not a bad thing. It slows down the growth," said Peterson.

But, Peterson said if the weather should sway too hot or too cold, crops could take a turn for the worse. For instance, if warmer temperatures were to linger, plant growth would increase, exposing the ginseng to overnight freezes.

"If it comes up typically before we have the full moons, which are our coldest times for the growing season, we could have a killing freeze," said Peterson.

Peterson said he recalls the worst weather two years ago, when an early spring was followed by a May snowstorm.

"The harvest that year was down to a third of what we normally do in Marathon County, and last year was the same way because those plants also went through that snow that came down," said Peterson.

Growers say the weather damage caused the price of ginseng to increase, making the current prices very high.

"The prices have doubled," said Peterson.

He says any more damage to the plants would cause terrible consequences.

"If it continues there will be a shortage," said Peterson.

Although, this year farmers like Peterson have their eye on the thermometer, waiting for a come back.

"To some the cooler weather we're experiencing right now is not to their liking, but its a little bit more of a blessing to us," said Peterson.

A blessing they're hoping will protect the plants.

 

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