17 Feb 2014

Ginseng nearly ready for harvest

3:37 pm on 17 February 2014

It's taken seven years but a Maori-owned company growing the so-called Chinese king of herbs, ginseng, will harvest its first crop next month, with long-term plans to export.

Cold conditions are best for growing the Asian herb, which is being trialled under a pine forest canopy at Te Kuiti in the King Country.

The Maraeroa C Incorporation, which is behind the plantation, says the Crown Research Institute Plant and Food Research identified a gap in the wild ginseng market about eight years ago

Chief executive Glen Katu says his company's plan is to fill that hole in supplying the herb.

Mr Katu says 95 percent of the world's ginseng is now farmed intensively under artificial canopy.

He says over-harvesting and deforestation means it is very rare to find wild ginseng in forests in Asia and North America.

Ginseng is used in health capsules, tea, as a food additive and in ointments.

Mr Katu says they intend to eventually make and export tonics, and alcohol products with ginseng, which is popular in China.

He says the first harvest will not be a large one.