News Filed Under Catfish
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.
STONEVILLE, Miss. -- As demand for catfish remains high, the only components of its production trending down this year in Mississippi are pond acreage and the price of feed.
Producers are receiving an average of $1.12 to $1.21 per pound of catfish and paying less than $380 for a ton of feed. To Jimmy Avery, Extension aquaculture professor at the Mississippi State University Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, those data are good news for the bottom line.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Neither crop yields nor prices were particularly bad in 2015, but Mississippi’s estimated state agricultural production value still dropped to $7.2 billion, a 4.9 percent decrease from the previous year.
Brian Williams, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the decline in agricultural value has two causes.
September is National Catfish Month…
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Catfish is high in protein and low in saturated fat, making it healthy and delicious.
Mark Peterman, an aquaculture associate with the Mississippi State University Extension Service based in east Mississippi, said all of Mississippi’s catfish must pass a minimum of three sensory taste tests before processing plants will accept delivery.
RAYMOND, Miss. -- High consumer demand and lower input costs have Mississippi catfish farmers filling their ponds to the brim.
“Consumer demand has stayed pretty high, and that has farmers stocking at high rates, even though pond acreage is down by almost 8 percent from last year,” said Jimmy Avery, Extension aquaculture professor at the Mississippi State University Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville. “We are optimistic that consumers are still out there and demanding a U.S. farm-raised product.”
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Frozen catfish fillets have joined Edam cheese, ice cream, muscadine juice, peanuts, beef and more in the lineup of local products for sale in the Mississippi State University Cheese Store.
Starting March 30, shoppers can buy 4-pound boxes of frozen, U.S. farm-raised catfish in the cheese outlet, also known as the MAFES Sales Store, operated by the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. Catfish will be sold in the popular 2- to 3-ounce fillets at a price in line with the current market.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Despite low prices for many commodities, the overall projected totals for Mississippi’s crop values should top $7 billion for the third straight year and essentially match the record set in 2013.
John Michael Riley, agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said his preliminary estimate of 2014’s agricultural production values, excluding government payments, is over $7.7 billion.
STONEVILLE -- There is a reason catfish do well in Mississippi: hot summers.
“An unusually cool summer like we have had can create nice days for people, but the temperatures have caused some problems for our catfish,” said Jimmy Avery, Extension aquaculture specialist at the Mississippi State University Delta Research and Extension Center.
MACON -- East Mississippi catfish producers are invited to an April 30 workshop that will help them address a new challenge to their profit margins.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service is offering a short meeting on trematode infection in catfish. All industry professionals are encouraged to attend the Wednesday session from 1:30-2:30 p.m. at the Noxubee County Civic Center in Macon. Registration begins at 1 p.m.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Eliminating ramshorn snails is a proven method of controlling a major catfish parasite, but producers must be constantly vigilant to keep a small problem from exploding into big trouble.
Digenetic trematodes, which are spread by ramshorn snails, can cause costly problems in Mississippi catfish ponds, including slow fish growth, susceptibility to diseases and fingerling death. This parasite is showing signs of reemerging as a significant problem, and it has spread from the Delta to east Mississippi ponds.
STARKVILLE – Mark Peterman joined the Mississippi State University Extension Service as the new aquaculture associate March 1.
Peterman returned to MSU after nine years at Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, where he was a member of the farm management team.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in fisheries management from MSU and a master’s degree in aquaculture from Auburn University.
BILOXI – An upcoming meeting will allow producers of various commodities in Mississippi’s coastal region to help guide Mississippi State University’s research and educational programs in the district.
Experts from the MSU Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will be available to discuss current issues, share research results and answer questions at the annual Commodity Advisory Council meeting Feb. 25 at the Coastal Research and Extension Center.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi’s top two agricultural commodities -- poultry and forestry -- maintained their strength in 2013, but most agronomic crop values took a hit from significantly lower prices than those earned in 2012.
John Michael Riley, agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said agronomic crop prices were a major drag in the state’s total agricultural commodity value despite good-to-great production levels.
STONEVILLE – Mississippi State University scientists looking to help catfish producers keep costs low and quality high have found catfish can thrive for the first six weeks after hatching by feeding on naturally occurring zooplankton.
Several aquaculture researchers at MSU’s Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center compared the growth and survival of two groups of recently hatched catfish, called fry. Both groups were raised in ponds, but for six weeks, one group ate commercial feed daily while the other group did not.
BILOXI – More than 250 boats launched on June 11 to open the shrimp season in Mississippi’s coastal waters.
A cold, wet spring delayed the season’s start, which opened June 1 last year.
“The things farmers hate -- drought and heat -- are great for shrimp production,” said Dave Burrage, commercial and recreational fisheries specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “The brown shrimp don’t grow as fast under the conditions we had this spring, but once it gets hot, they can go up a whole count size in a week.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Conservation-minded Mississippi farmers have enrolled 126,470 acres in the Research and Education to Advance Conservation and Habitat program, a Mississippi State University effort to impact land management.
Robbie Kroger, an assistant professor of aquatic sciences in the MSU Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, leads the REACH initiative, which as of April includes 41 farmers. Participation in the program impacts management practices on their acreage.