Extreme Spring Weather Kills Valuable US Ginseng Crop For Chinese Export


"Fay Tai sorts through ginseng root at Hsu's Ginseng Enterprises north of Wausau in this 2004 photo." Image and caption credit:Gary Porter, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The USA doesn't legally export much high-value product to China. Some high tech stuff for aerospace and defense and some software; but that's about it. I bet if US citizens could legally farm or clone Tiger bone bits, or Bear gall bladder and sell them into China they would, because China has an endless supply of people who will buy that crap thinking it will give them personal health and vitality. Ginseng, another traditional Chinese med, is a different matter. That stuff gives a you a real buzz if you get the good kind - which comes from Wisconsin, mostly.

For some reason, Wisconsin ginseng is particularly potent and therefore highly-valued in China. The crop is worth many millions to Wisconsin ginseng farmers - producing orders of magnitude more cash per acre than corn. I imagine everyone involved is therefore pretty disappointed that extreme spring weather has killed off most of Wisconsin's Ginseng crop. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has the story:

Wisconsin's valuable ginseng crop - a major export to China - took a devastating hit Mother's Day weekend when deceptively mild spring weather reverted to winter before upstate growers could protect the ancient medicinal root worth $60,000 to $80,000 an acre.

"This was like the Hurricane Katrina of Wisconsin - it took out nearly all of our ginseng gardens," said Joe Heil, president of the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin produces 95% of the nation's ginseng - an earthy, mildly bitter medicinal root prized in China for its health-enhancing properties. It's by far the state's most lucrative crop, per acre.

Notice I am not saying that this was "caused" by climate change. Although I would just as soon have the Chinese believe it was.

Tags: Agriculture | Wisconsin

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