STONEVILLE, Miss. -- This year marks Mississippi’s 200th anniversary as a state, but one of its most successful industries -- catfish farming -- is only about 60 years old.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service has played a significant role in the state’s status as the top producer of catfish in the U.S. Most of the technological advances related to the industry have taken place at MSU facilities under the direction of university and U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers.
DODDSVILLE, Miss. -- Production is the least of Ben Pentecost's worries for his catfish farm this summer. If anything, he has too many fish.
"I think our supply is larger now than in recent years, and demand is about the same," said Pentecost, co-owner of the Pentecost Brothers catfish farm in Sunflower County. "We have a backlog of bigger-sized catfish, which processors are pushing back on, but the fish keep getting even bigger the longer they stay in the ponds."
MACON, Miss. -- Mississippi has a long history of catfish production, but recent advances in management and production are changing the way some ponds look and operate.
Catfish ponds have traditionally been rectangular, shallow and large, usually about 10 acres of water. Today, some existing ponds are split in half to make two equal-sized, intensively managed ponds. Another new approach is to use levees to split ponds into cells with fish raised in 20 percent of the area and the other 80 percent used as a lagoon that helps oxygenate water.
VERONA, Miss. -- Mississippi State University specialists and researchers met with northeast Mississippi agricultural producers in Verona on Feb. 16 to provide updates and hear requests for future programs.
Jane Parish, newly appointed head of the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, said the annual Producer Advisory Council meeting reflects the close relationship between area producers and the MSU Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine.