Stratifying Ginseng Seed
Stratifying Ginseng Seed is necessary to insure the highest germination rates.
Ginseng seed will lie dormant for 19-21 months before they will sprout for the first time. This means that they will need to be stored for a year before they are ready to be planted the fall after stratification. The seeds will need to be exposed to a cycle of seasons, cold fall and winter, warm spring and summer and another cold fall and winter. Then they will be ready to plant that fall. This seasoning process is called stratification, where growers will simulate what naturally happens in the wild. Now many experienced growers will say that it is best to stratify your ginseng seeds in the same locations that they will be planted. The soil content and moisture levels that are ideal for ginseng growth also tend to produce the best germination rates from stratification. This makes perfect sense, if ginseng plants will thrive in one area then don’t it make sense that there seeds would be perfectly suited for survival in that area as well. You will need a stratification box and eventually you will need many of these. Some folks use buckets with many drainage holes drilled in the top and bottom. Others make stratification boxes, most will be 1×1 or 2×2 but you can modify these to fit your personal business needs. What ever the dimensions you chose to stratify your ginseng seed, you will need to have the bottom and top made with screen or metal mesh. I prefer a combination two screen layers with a metal mesh in the middle, just added assurance that the critters will stay out. Your stratification boxes should be around a foot deep, just remember when building your boxes that you will need to be able to move these once filled with sand and seed. Trust me the weight adds up fast.
No matter if your seeds are De-pulped or not the process is pretty much the same. Start by putting a layer of sand down in the bottom of your stratification box, (Or whatever you decided to use) next you will layer a single row of ginseng seeds on top of the sand and cover these seeds with another layer of sand. Repeat this sand, seed, sand, seed combination until you no longer have any seeds remaining. You will start and finish your stratification boxes with sand top and bottom. Once your stratification box or boxes are full of seed and sand its then time to bury. Again if you can bury your seeds in a location at your actual planting site than that is best. You can stratify seeds in a cool basement or unheated building but there is need for constant supervision. The soils moisture content has to be just right and I do not recommend this unless you are prepared to take on this challenge. If not done properly you could lose all your seeds. Dig a hole a few inches deeper than your box or container. Depending on the soil at your site it may be wise to layer the bottom of your stratification hole with gravel to help with drainage. The top of the box should be around two inches below soil. You can leave the top out of the soil a bit if required but will require several inches of additional mulch.