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Ginseng Association 1905

Related: Kentucky Color: Sang

By Mike Watson

Billy Joe's photo and information on 'Sang' made me look up some information I compiled once-upon-a-time about the American Ginseng Growers Association of Kentucky which had deep and early roots in Adair County. A publication/newsletter was produced at Cane Valley and was widely subscribed to by followers of this lucrative business.

I recall combing the woods in my childhood with our uncle, Roy Bunch, who was an avid 'sang digger' and woodsman. Here are a few notes from 1905, the beginning of the Ginseng Fever in Adair County:


In the near future there will be organized a strong company for the purpose of growing Ginseng in this county. Such an organization ought to be and will be highly profitable. [Adair County News, 8 February 1905]

Mr. T.B. Lyon, of Cane Valley, who enlisted in the propagation of Ginseng four years ago, was in town Friday and in conversation with a News man stated: I am a firm believer in the future value of this great commercial product.

I have, from a very small beginning, within four years, set a little over one-fourth of an acre and have 80,000 seed that will come up this spring. I have 160,000 seed of the 1904 crop stratified that will be ready to plant this fall and germinate next spring. Last year I sold $155.00 worth of dry roots, most of which were cultivated wild roots, and in that bunch I had one root that weighed near 2 oz and sold on the Louisville market for $1.10. This was a five-year old cultivated root.

I have, in a quiet way, watched the market and the interest in the growth of the plant and my opinion is that the production is not keeping pace with the consumption and if the price is affected within the next few years it will be in favor of the producer. There is a very [good] reason to expect the highest prices for first-class roots, for many years to come. The business seems in its infancy. [Adair County News, 22 March 1905]

This story was posted on 2022-05-16 12:06:05
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