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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:


Latin Name: Panax quinquefolius

Plant Family: Araliaceae

Close Relatives: Wild sarsaparilla, spikenard

Uses and Markets: Medicinal (e.g. adaptogen, treatment of a wide range of disorders); culinary (e.g. soups, teas)

North American GinsengGinseng is grown commercially under artificial shade.Dried ginseng roots
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Ginseng producers in Ontario are represented by the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association and anyone producing more than 0.25 acres of ginseng in Ontario is required to be a member and pay an acreage fee to the Association. Ginseng is considered an endangered species in Ontario and is protected under the Endangered Species Act. Members of the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association are exempt from the Act if they are growing ginseng under artificial shade. Anyone wishing to grow ginseng in Ontario and not included in the exemption must obtain a permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Propagation method


Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

August to October.

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

Typically seeded at a rate of 89-112 kg/ha seed or 160 to 250 seeds per m2 in 8 to 12 rows per 1.5 m (5 ft) bed.

Between row spacing

See in-row spacing.

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



The recommended nitrogen requirement for ginseng is 40 kg N/ha applied every year of production as a broadcast application in the spring prior to emergence. Nitrogen rates exceeding 50 kg N/ha do not increase root yield and may lead to a reduction in yield. The rate of nitrogen applied has little effect on the root ginsenoside concentration. Research has shown that nitrogen requirements for fertigation are similar to broadcast application. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well-drained soils, sandy to sandy loam soils; will not survive in saturated soils.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit

Artificial shade – requires 18 to 26% of full sunlight.

Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Freeze tolerant.

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation beneficial under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

3-4 years; root production increases with age but disease pressures dictate when a particular field is harvested.

Specialized equipment

Specialized equipment is available for marking out posts, bed formation, seeding, straw spreading, erecting shade, pest control product application, harvesting, curing, grading, and drying.

Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Machine harvest (modified potato diggers).

Quality parameters/grades

ginseng has numerous grades, but is not typically graded in Ontario except to remove diseased roots.

Additional Harvest Notes

harvested in September or October.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Harvested ginseng is usually refrigerated for 2-6 weeks at 3-8°C to “condition” the roots to improve colour before being minimally graded. Graded roots are typically dried to 5-8% moisture content in forced air kilns, with an optimum drying temperature of 38°C.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): Dried product is stored in plastic-lined barrels after drying to slow re-hydration but storage under low humidity will prolong shelf-life.

Temperature: Low temperature storage will improve shelf-life.

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 2-4 years

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: Four-lined plant bug, cutworms, grubs, aphids, mealybugs, pit scale, leafrollers, planthoppers, stem borers, millipedes, slugs, root knot nematode, root-lesion nematode

Diseases: Alternaria leaf and stem blight, Botrytis blight, Phytophthora leaf blight and root rot, Cylindrocarpon root rot (disappearing root rot), rusty root, Rhizoctonia crown rot, Fusarium rot, Pythium rot, damping-off, Sclerotinia white mould, Verticillium wilt, Chalara black root rot, Geotrichum mould (storage), Rhizopus rot (field and storage), powdery mildew

Other: Rodents, wild turkeys

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: None

Diseases: Ascochyta, Phoma, Colletotrichum, ginseng yellow stunt virus, ginseng bushy stunt virus, ginseng necrotic disease (mycoplasma-like organism)

Other: None

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions. 


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: Phytophthora leaf blight and root rot, Cylindrocarpon root rot, Rhizoctonia crown rot, Alternaria leaf and stem blight, Botrytis blight. Soil-borne and foliar diseases are the primary barrier to ginseng production in Ontario and require considerable time and expertise for successful management. Due to soil-borne pests, ginseng cannot be grown successfully on the same land twice, even decades later. This crop is in Crop Group 1: Root and Tuber Vegetables and subgroup 1A: Root Vegetables and 1B: Root Vegetables except Sugarbeet. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist. For pest control products registered on this crop refer to OMAFRA Publication 610. For more information on pests of ginseng and their identification, refer to Ontario Ginseng IPM, an interactive module available through the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association.

Phytophthora root rot of ginsengCylindrocarpon root rot of ginseng Ginseng plant canopy decimated by Alternaria leaf and stem blight.
Additional Notes

More detailed recommendations on ginseng production are available in OMAFRA Publication 610: Production Recommendations for Ginseng.

Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile

  1. Ginseng has a long history of research in Ontario. Extensive research has been conducted by OMAFRA, the University of Guelph, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Western University, and the ginseng industry.
  1. Ontario Ministry of Agricultur, Food and Rural Affairs. 2009. Production Recommendations for Ginseng. Publication 610, Queen’s Printer for Ontario, Toronto.