$20 million, 590,000 pounds, 4 countries: Ginseng in Marathon County, by the numbers

Laura Schulte
Wisconsin State Farmer

WAUSAU - Ginseng is a very important plant in Marathon County.

Not only will it draw hundreds of people to Wausau and surrounding areas this weekend with the inaugural International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival, but it also draws millions of dollars into the Marathon County economy each year, thanks to a number of growers throughout rural areas. 

A ginseng root is framed in the Fromm farms clubhouse. The sales of ginseng are what funded the Fromm fox farm.

Production of ginseng in Wisconsin started in 1904 in Hamburg, when the young Fromm brothers decided to dig the root up from the woods surrounding their home and cultivate them. Now 113 years later, Wisconsin produces some of the best ginseng in the world, said Bob Kaldunski, the president of the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin. 

Related:Historic silver fox farm back in founding family's hands

Courtesy of the Ginseng Board, here are some other ginseng numbers that may shock you: 

$20 million: The total cost of all ginseng sold in 2016. 

590,000 pounds: The amount of ginseng exported from the United States last year. Of that, 98 percent of that ginseng was produced in the central Wisconsin area. 

180: The number of growers in and around central Wisconsin. 

20: The number of points on a fatigue scale by which chemotherapy patients saw their energy increase when they took ginseng, according to a study done by Mayo Clinic. The findings, presented at the 2012 conference of physicians, found that over a two-month period, ginseng helped patients fight fatigue more effectively than a placebo.

15 to 20: The number of workers it takes to pick one acre of ginseng in one day, using no technology. 

12 to 25: The number of ginseng roots that make up a pound. It depends on the length of time the root stayed in the ground. 

4: The number of countries that produce ginseng: the U.S., Canada, China and North Korea. 

3 to 5: The number of years a ginseng root grows before it's picked. The amount of time varies depending on the soil it's grown in and what the root is being grown for. Roots grown for slicing take longer than those that will be used for medicinal reasons.