In Indiana, harvest season for ginseng is from September 1 through December 31 of any given year. Harvesters do not need a license to either dig or sell to certified buyers, but the state requires dealers to have licenses.
For a legal harvest, the ginseng plant must be a mature plant with at least three prongs and a fruiting stalk, and its berries must be red. Leave plants with green berries to mature longer. The state of Indiana requires that you plant the berries in the vicinity of the parent plant to encourage the germination of a new plant. You must leave the plant whole with its stalk and leaves until it reaches your home or place of business so that it can be identified.
To dig up the ginseng, push a small pitchfork or spade into the ground about 6 inches from the plant, and then gently push the dirt up to lift the plant. In cases where the plant is near other, immature plants, use a flat-head screwdriver, taking care to not damage the younger plants.
Gently remove excess soil with a brief soak in a cool bucket of water, but do not scrub the roots. Scrubbing too vigorously can damage the surface of the root.