This is my favorite stage of development for ramps. Some people dig them in January, before they have sprouted green tops above the ground. I like the tops as well as the underground bulbs, so we usually wait until now to dig ramps. If you wait a few more weeks, until the tops are full-sized, they become very tough, although they still taste good. Several bloggers I follow, including Reya and Angelena, have mentioned spring tonics and purification practices. Ramps must be West Virginians' favorite spring tonic. I know I felt better after my first dish of ramps and eggs this season.
We only have a few small ramp patches on our property, and they're not spreading at all, so we leave them alone (except for one or two for scrambled eggs now and then). If we want a pan full, we go to the national forest. Local people tell me that there aren't as many ramps as there used to be. Some think it's from over-harvesting, others think it's an increase in forest density. Whatever the cause, folks are worried that the Forest Service soon will start issuing permits to dig ramps, the way they have in other states.