CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The 2019 ginseng season is set to open Sunday.
The season will last from September 1 and will continue through November 30.
The perennial herb grows slowly with seeds that take two years to be fully ready to harvest. By law, only ginseng plants with three or more prongs are old enough to harvest. Ginseng diggers must replant the seeds from the parent plant in the spot where they harvested it to help continue the species.
A law introduced in the 2018 season requires all diggers to provide a government – issued photo ID to sell their ginseng to a registered dealer. Fines for violating the law are $500 – $1,000 for a first offense and $1,000 – $2,000 for multiple offenses.
Diggers have until March 31 to sell to a registered West Virginia ginseng dealer or have roots weight-receipted at one of the West Virginia Division of Forestry weigh stations. A weight receipt is a record of the ginseng dug during the current year and the individual who wants to hold it over to the next digging/buying season.
Poaching is illegal and threatens the survival of wild ginseng. Digging for ginseng is not permitted in State Forests, State Parks or other state-owned public lands. Ginseng hunters must have written permission to dig the plants from private property.
Ginseng grows throughout the state and can be found in all 55 counties.
Those interested can find details on ginseng are available on the Division of Forestry website. The site includes a description of mature ginseng plants, rules for harvesting and resources such lists of West Virginia ginseng dealers and weigh stations.