China gets priority … after a recent winter storm damaged the state’s ginseng crop.
While experts try to determine the extent of the crop damage, Butch Weege (wee-gee), executive director of the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin, says Wisconsin will fulfill its contractual obligation to China. “They are the only authorized users of our brand in the People’s Republic of China. Those people will have a priority … we will honor those contracts.”
Weege points out that 22 counties in Wisconsin have ginseng operations, so not all growers were impacted by the May snow storm. He says distributors and retailers do have some inventory, but it’s not out of the question to see a reduced supply for consumers. That means prices for ginseng products could go up. “The logical reaction to that supply shortage could mean some increase in pricing.” He says, “It’s too early for me to project what that total impact might be, but it is a possibility.”
Weege says the carry-over crop from 2009 could help fill some of the prospective void. An emergency grower meeting was held last week to discuss the storm’s impact on the crop, recovery efforts, and even whether the stronger wood structures should be reconsidered. Weege says people got away from wood because it’s more labor intensive and more costly.
Officials last October signed a trade agreement making a Chinese company the exclusive distributor of Wisconsin ginseng in China. Weege is confident there will be enough ginseng to fulfill that obligation.
In 2007, the state’s ginseng growers harvested 400,000 pounds of the herb, worth $10 million. Wisconsin grows about 95% of the total ginseng crop in the United States. Governor Jim Doyle last week requested a federal disaster declaration for ginseng growers in the Wausau area.
Jackie Johnson report 1:53
Related story: Still evaluating ginseng loss