PARKERSBURG - Ginseng hunters will take to the woods starting Sept. 1 when the season starts in West Virginia and Ohio.
The season runs until Nov. 30 in West Virginia and until Dec. 31 in Ohio, according to the Division of Forestry in West Virginia and the Department of Natural Resources in Ohio.
Ginseng is prized for its purported medicinal purposes. Most of the ginseng harvested in the United States is exported to China.
The root sold upward of $1,000 a pound in 2007 in some parts of the United States.
Last year's price started at $400 a pound, but dropped to $350 a pound later in the year, said Russell Moore, a license buyer in Reedy.
"Two years ago it was really high," he said. "I'm not sure what it's going to do this year."
Moore believes the economy and demand rather than the weather have a greater impact on the price.
Rob Well of Tyler Outdoor Supply in Middlebourne, also a licensed ginseng buyer in West Virginia, sets the price he'll pay on what his buyer will pay him. He buys ginseng from about 15 hunters.
"I don't know what it's going to be," he said.
A pound of ginseng is a lot of roots. Moore has purchased as much as two pounds from a seller while Ashley's Recycling in Mineral Wells has purchased as little as a half ounce.
Each state has regulations governing the harvest of ginseng. Some are the same.
In West Virginia:
Plants that are 5-years old or older may be harvested. Age is determined by the number of prongs and only plants with three or more prongs are considered old enough. The law requires harvesters to replant the seeds from where the parent plant was harvested.
Harvesters have until March 31 to sell to a registered ginseng dealer or have roots weight-receipted at a Division of Forestry weigh station.
Possession of the roots is prohibited from April 1 through Aug. 31 without a weight-receipt from the Division of Forestry.
Harvesters need the property owner's permission.
Permits are not required to dig wild ginseng.
Harvesting is prohibited on public land.
Harvested plants must have at least three prongs.
Landowner permission is required.
Harvesters must keep accurate harvest records by county and collection date.
The seeds from harvested plants must be immediately planted at the site.
Dealers and buyers shall obtain certification from a Division of Wildlife inspector that the ginseng was legally collected before it can be exported out of state.
Certification document must state the exact, correct weight of the ginseng root being certified.
The fee for ginseng certification is $3 a pound.
Dealers may not buy dry, uncertified ginseng between April 1 and Sept. 15.
Wild green ginseng collected between April 1 and Aug. 31 can't be sold.
Dealers must get a state dealer's registration permit that expires Aug. 31 each year.
Buyers at sale must have the seller's name and address, the dealer's state registration permit number if applicable and ginseng certification number, the weight of ginseng root collected by county and the date of the transaction.
All of the above information must be provided when selling ginseng root.
Dealers and buyers must display educational materials provided by the Division of Wildlife and show proof of certification to out-of-state purchasers.
Accurate records must be kept on all ginseng sold and purchased and the records are open to inspection by the Division of Wildlife.
Dealers and buyers must submit for weighing all uncertified ginseng on hand as of March 31 to the Division of Wildlife.
A person may only possess ginseng from a state that has a ginseng management program that has been approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Uncertified ginseng can not be exported out of Ohio.