Baby ginger: Easy and extraordinary niche crop

By Khyla Flores

With ever-growing competition in the marketplace, standing out to consumers with farm-fresh, local produce is becoming increasingly challenging. Offering a “niche” crop that separates you from the competition and stands out visually and in culinary excellence will draw customers to your other products. “Baby ginger speaks for itself on the farmers’ market table because the beautiful pink and cream colored rhizomes sell themselves,” says Susan Anderson, owner of East Branch Ginger. And it isn’t something customers see often, if at all.

Baby ginger is quite different from regular store-bought mature ginger for both customers and growers. Mature ginger has a very tough hide and is very potent whereas baby ginger is very tender; people can simply chop and use it without having to peel through a tough skin and fibrous center. Growers should be aware that storage time after harvest is much shorter for baby ginger than it is for mature ginger, which can often last for months if stored properly. Baby ginger can be stored at room temperature for only about two to three weeks after harvest. Although this limits the market season for baby ginger, it also means competition for the crop is small; the crop cannot be shipped from overseas.

Buying seed ginger

 Local farmers wishing to adventure into the untapped market of baby ginger can purchase organic ginger seed pieces from East Branch Ginger, the “mainland” ginger seed sales representative of Puna Organics, the oldest ginger grower on Hawaii’s main island. Located in North Carolina, East Branch also grows its own ginger for market. But Anderson’s primary job is to get the word out to other farms that this niche crop can be a boon to their sales, and it looks like she is succeeding. “Baby ginger has become wildly popular,” says Anderson, so much so that East Branch Ginger and its parent, Puna Organics, are already sold out of seed ginger for this year. To date, they are the only suppliers of organic seed ginger in the mainland U.S. as the market is so new, so ordering early for next year will be essential.

Harvest goals drive seed quantities; deciding what you hope to harvest will determine how much seed you’ll need to order.  According to Anderson, if you are looking for 160 pounds of harvestable baby ginger, you will need to order and plant about 20 pounds of seed. Although farmers can attempt to save their own seed from season to season, they risk replanting diseased seed to grow next year’s baby ginger crop. For many farmers, it may be more cost effective to invest in new certified organic ginger seed than attempt to save their own seed for replanting. Saving seed comes with the financial burden of keeping the soil above 50 degrees F during the off season in addition to the risk of passing along disease to the next season’s crop, making it unsaleable. “Buying clean ginger seed is like buying an insurance policy,” says Anderson.


Once the seed ginger you ordered has arrived, it is extremely important to open the box. Seed ginger needs to breathe and be pre-sprouted almost immediately. The goal is to get the rhizome out of dormancy and start the budding process. You’ll need to sustain temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees F for pre-sprouting. Since baby ginger is grown in tropical climates, you’ll want to mimic the soil and temperatures in which they usually grow.

  • Start seed ginger in a shallow, well-drained container about 2-3” deep.
  • Water immediately, but let soil dry to the touch before watering again.
  • Place out of full sun exposure, but keep at around 70 to 80 degrees F with heat mats, a germination chamber or a warm greenhouse.

Planting, feeding, harvesting, storing

Seed ginger should be placed in the ground in a field, high tunnel or greenhouse, anywhere from late February to early April, depending on climate. The soil needs to stay at a minimum temperature of 50 degrees F for proper development and should be tested every morning before the sun gets to it. You can plant approximately 25-30 pounds of baby ginger seed per 100 feet of soil and can also grow it in container culture. If you plan to plant your ginger in a container, you must have the capacity to hill the crop. The container also has to be very well-draining and the soil mix should not be actively decomposing. Ginger is also an extremely hungry crop, and a soil test is essential to ensure the plants are getting enough nutrients. Anderson recommends gypsum to help ginger take up nutrients without altering soil pH.

Ginger needs to be hilled three times a year, starting with the first hilling when the base of the stems turns from bright white to vivid pink. You may need to dig down in the soil a half inch or so to see the color change. The second hilling should occur four to six weeks later, and the final hilling should occur a few weeks after that. Each time the plant is hilled, 4- to 6-inches of growing media should be added and it should be fed with a balanced certified organic fertilizer. Consistent watering is also necessary for baby ginger seed to yield high results; however, over-watering can slow rhizome growth.

Baby ginger is ready to harvest about four to six months after it has been planted, in late August or early September. If you wait any longer to harvest your crop, it will turn begin to mature past the baby ginger stage, although it will take a total of 11 months to reach full maturity. And, if the soil temperatures dip below 47-51 degrees F, you risk losing the crop entirely. Once harvested, baby ginger can be chopped, cubed, sliced and kept whole and frozen. Outside of the freezer, it will only store for about 2 weeks.


Once you become accustomed to the needs of the ginger plant, it essentially grows itself. There are few pests that affect ginger, but bacterial wilt and fusarium can become problems, especially if you’re trying to save seed from year to year. A crop infected with bacterial wilt shows signs of yellowing foliage and wilting plants. Symptoms of fusarium are yellowing foliage and, within a week or two of becoming infected, discoloration of the rhizome; it will acquire a beige/brown color.

The best way to avoid bacterial wilt and fusarium is to start each year with organic, certified disease-free seed ginger, but spores could already be present in your soil. Adding beneficial bacteria and fungi to your soil or growing medium will not only combat these diseases but also boost yield. Anderson recommends products such as Actinovate (Streptomyces lydicus) and RootShield (Trichoderma harzianum).

Marketing baby ginger

Educating consumers is the best way for farmers to market their new crop! Consumers and local chefs are mostly unfamiliar with baby ginger as a culinary ingredient, so pre-educating them before the season starts is key to getting them interested in future purchases. During harvest time, it’s important to educate the public on using and storing the baby ginger that they purchase. To reduce sticker shock for your customers, it is best to pick a per-pound price and break the baby ginger into smaller pieces to sell by the ounce. In addition to selling baby ginger as whole rhizomes, you can also market a number of value-added products, including pickled and candied ginger.

After a small learning curve, baby ginger can become an easy-to-manage crop in your rotation, providing a boost in sales in early fall, creating demand, and drawing in a new customer base.

27 Responses to “Baby ginger: Easy and extraordinary niche crop”

  1. Tim Cooke

    Interested in purchasing a small quantity to grow as a test batch in Australia We are located on the Sunshine Coast in Australia,
    What type of ginger is it?

  2. Therese Stephens

    I have been looking for a farm to buy culinary/medicinal ginger and have not been able to locate anywhere in the US.
    Do you have a catalog and do you sell wholesale?

    Thank you,

  3. Lee Maxwell

    Want to know whether ginger will grow in Pennsylvania, and if so so how much it costs

  4. Jen

    Purchased ginger this year, started it out in the containers and unforuntately that is where they stayed. We did add more soil to it (would this be consistant with how the container growing would have worked? All the ginger still looks really good and spells awesome but I’m wondering if there is a way to tell or confirm that it is still good? Is it possible that it would just be more like regular ginger root at this point instead of the baby ginger that we had intended to have? Will I be okay to use as I would any other ginger and/or freeze it and use later??

  5. Daniel

    Puna Organics has been selling ORGANIC ginger for 21 years.
    If you are looking for ORGANIC seed please see
    I am the guy harvesting ginger in the pictures on this article.
    Thank you!

  6. johnson maani

    sir, my father is a ginger farmer from last 25years in india. now we are interested in organic farming of ginger can you please help us. to know from where we can get the organic seeds for our farming.
    thanking you

  7. Deborah

    For Jen,
    What did you find out about your ginger? As I am reading this almost a year after your post in October 2013.

    Nothing is wrong with digging down gently and inspecting your ginger. If is is still pink around the stem, well, there you have it. Otherwise let it mature, and yes you can freeze it. It takes nine months to mature and you will know it because the foliage wilts and dries out.

  8. Zach Petersen

    Am very interested in growing baby ginger. Please send me a cateloge when you have availability. Thanks another NC farmer.

  9. Asiimwe Juliet

    I am a ginger farmer in Uganda and I am looking for possible markets for my produce. Can you help me please.
    Thank you.

  10. Steven Heller

    Is it possible to grow baby ginger in the Pacific
    Northwest in a U heated hoop house or tunnel ?
    What temperatures are required in the soil and
    hoop house so that it will grow successfully for
    market? What is the minimum temperature it can take to
    survive and thrive? Can tumeric also grow this way
    with similar temperature range? Where can I buy
    organic tumeric starts and organic ginger? What
    does it cost and where can I purchase it? Are there
    any how to grow information sheets that lead an
    inexperienced growing through all steps of planting
    thru harvest? Thank You, Steve

  11. Eli

    View puna organics they have a website for info.

    You can grow it if you can keep soil warm for about 6 months. They grow it in Maine!

  12. allbaby

    GREAT POST!!! soil needs to stay at a minimum temperature of 50 degrees F for proper development and should be tested every morning before the sun gets to it. You can plant approximately 25-30 pounds of baby ginger seed per 100 feet of soil and can also grow it in container culture. If you plan to plant your ginger in a container, you must have the capacity to hill the crop. The container also has to be very well-draining and the soil mix should not be actively decomposing. THANKS FOR THE POST!!

  13. amrut patel

    i would be intrested in buying baby ginger fresh thanks

  14. Rampatel

    Great article.we love to use baby ginger year around.our personal need is 20 lbs.can you ship by air to India?if answer is yes send me details of how to order.thanks.

    • Rodale Institute

      Hi Rampatel, we’re glad you enjoyed the article and using baby ginger all year! Unfortunately, we can not ship. Thank you for contacting Rodale Institute!

  15. Shinde

    Great Article, Enjoyed reading it! My soil has high PH of 7.93. Soil test indicated that out soil has high Calcium Carbonate and Calcium in it. In my case would you still recommend using Gypsum in my case? As Gypsim contains 23% of calcium carbonate. Also how can I quickly bring down soil PH?

    Thanks for the help.

  16. Paul Hepperly

    I see there was some interest in the need for Calcium for ginger production and it is essential. Calcium will be most critical under an acid pH of the soil and low Calcium availability. One person who has an alkaline soil wanted to know if gypsum Calcium sulfate would be recommended. While Calcium sulfate will not lower soil pH under your condition you may not need it. One thing to particularly avoid is the application of lime Calcium carbonate on an alkaline soil such as you have. This can drive soil to unhealthy alkalinity which can disbalance nutrient availability. I would advise using a soil test to get a tailored approach to what is needed for your ginger productio.

  17. Kathy Harbert

    Beware of East Branch Ginger. I had a very bad experience. Sent my money months ahead of time for Baby Ginger. Apparently the ginger froze on a truck and they were unable to send Baby Ginger. Instead of refunding my money they sent me some “other” grocery store ginger that never did sprout and grow under greenhouse conditions. It was very disappointing and I was out $100. I did find some later from another supplier and just finished harvesting a lovely crop.

  18. Andrew Pender

    Zach Petersen, I’m in NC too and have galangala ginger still growing (Dec 2016) in my greenhouse. Maybe you can contact me if you’re still interested. I’m on Facebook.

  19. Liz Kirchner

    Hi Steve,
    You wrote to Rodale early this year, but, if you’re pursuing the potential of organic baby ginger in the Pacific Northwest, consider a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant. I’m in Virginia, and a SARE awardee in the Blue Ridge (19 degrees this morning) is examining the profitability of organic baby ginger in a hoop house from certification to value-added product.
    There’s a SARE program in every state. The awards are about 10K.
    Have fun!

  20. Savannagal

    I went to the website for the farm mentioned in the article. They are no longer selling seed ginger. The website looked like they may be out of business.

    • NIsani Farm

      Did you receive a reply? We are in Southern Virginia and are growing seed ginger and seedlings for the 2018 growing season. We may be able to help you. We are Certified Naturally Grown (“organic” for small farmers). Just let me know.



  21. Debra Fradette

    Hey, was wondering if I could get just one of your baby ginger
    plants. I want to try and grow one in my house I don’t have an farm. Is this a possibility?


Leave a Reply