Korean ginseng has a root system which includes the rhizome head, main root, and lateral root from which numerous fine root and root hairs develop.
The shape of KOREA INSAM undergoes a process of transformation as the roots develop. In the first year of sowing, ginseng roots undergo about 17months of the elongation process(4 to 6 months) and flesh-up process(7-9 months) to become seedlings bearing heavy hair. The hair is trimmed off upon transplant in the second year of sowing. New lateral roots is set in the third year of sowing. In the fourth and fifth years, main roots flesh up and the lateral and fine roots grow fully to form the unique shape of ginseng roots.
Six-year-old ginseng, which is used for manufacturing red ginseng, has a 7~10cm long main root (diameter: 2~3cm) with several lateral roots and a large rhizome head. Its total length is about 34cm and weight is 40~120g(in some cases, up to 300g)
When roots are grown for more than 7 years, their growth is retarded and they become ill-shaped with woody skin. This extended growth results in a higher rate of cavity, or white insides, occurs after processing.
For the best quality of ginseng, special care must be devoted to cultivation, from planting to harvesting. The cultivation of ginseng is quite different from other crops. Once ginseng has been cultivated, it can not be re-cultivated in the same field within at least 15years. The field must be carefully selected because the yield depends on the soil nature and the lay of the land. In order to prepare the growing conditions of wild ginseng as closely as possible, the proper soil is located and fertilized with compost for on or two years.
Selecting the best seeds from a superior crop of ginseng and then transplanting the best seedlings is the requisite for premier vintages. Seedlings are also grown in specially prepared nursery bed soil.
Korean ginseng must be grown under shade without application of chemical fertilizers. In short, ginseng cultivation is a structural process that maintains traditional organic farming practices. Ginseng is grown in rows that are set by a compass to face north-east. Overhead shade is installed to protect the plants from direct sunlight. It is of key importance that they grow as large as possible, while maintaining with balance in rhizome head, main root, and lateral roots.