News Filed Under Catfish
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Growers of freshwater prawns, one of the state's smaller and newer crops, wrapped up harvest in early October with what appears to be profitable yields.
Mississippi has at least 1,000 water acres in commercial prawn production in the state. There is no state yield estimate, but Lou D'Abramo, professor with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said several growers reported yields of 800 to 1,000 pounds an acre.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Researchers at Mississippi State University who are trying to formulate the best diet for catfish have found a protein mix that seems to be the most efficient.
Protein is added to catfish diets from either plant or animal sources. Catfish need protein for the same reasons every other living thing needs protein -- bodies cannot make certain amino acids needed to function and must get these from food.
GREENVILLE -- The 1990s were times of growth and prosperity for the catfish industry, but these days, Delta farmer Brent Johnson would just like to break even on his production costs.
Johnson said catfish are bringing between 55 and 56 cents a pound when he sells them to processors. Since it costs him close to 70 cents a pound to grow the fish, he is losing money on every pond he harvests this year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi leads the world in catfish production, but for various reasons, the state's children may not be introduced to fish on their plates as soon as they should.
As the Bolivar County home economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, Sharon Allen works in the heart of catfish production -- the Mississippi Delta. She sees firsthand what children are eating and what they are not eating. She also knows the importance of consuming a variety of foods to maintain a healthy diet.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- An oversupply of catfish, economic recession and imports have driven catfish prices to their lowest in years, but farmers are just happy that people have continued to buy as much of their fish as before.
Jimmy Avery, associate Extension catfish specialist at Mississippi State University's Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center in Stoneville, said the only bright spots for catfish farmers are fairly low feed prices and continued demand for the product.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Catfish producers have an updated tool to help them remain afloat in financial hard times.
Fishy 2002 is the latest version of computer software developed in 1982 at Mississippi State University to aid the aquaculture industry. Wallace Killcreas, Fishy programmer and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station agricultural economist, said the program aids management and decision-making.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The recent market's demand for larger catfish has helped the industry become more efficient, but it also increases the risk to producers.
Harvest-ready catfish today weigh between 1 1/4 to 3 pounds and average 1 1/2 pounds. Until recently, catfish averaging 1 1/4 pounds were considered market-size fish.
By Linda Breazeale
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University researchers are working to reduce the health challenges mass production of catfish can bring, which are similar to the issues faced by other food animals such as poultry and swine.
"Anytime you have intensive management situations, you can have various outbreaks of disease or parasite problems," said Dr. Linda Pote, parasitologist with MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- About the only way Mississippi farm-raised catfish resemble other fish found in the state is that they all live in water.
Catfish are grown commercially under controlled conditions. Every aspect of their production is carefully managed to ensure a consistently high harvest and to protect the quality of the product.
Mississippi leads the world in catfish production. In 2000, the state had 110,000 acres of catfish ponds while the nation had a total of 190,000 acres.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Catfish farmers have economic evidence that battling the most common cause of off-flavor with copper sulfate brings higher profits.
Research shows that adding copper sulfate to catfish ponds to kill blue-green algae greatly reduces problems with off-flavor. By treating to keep the fish on-flavor, producers can expect higher profits.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A short-term study of a common catfish pond treatment suggests copper sulfate is an environmentally sound procedure for controlling off-flavor problems.
John Hargreaves, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station aquaculture biologist with the Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center, completed a study of the effects of copper sulfate applications to catfish ponds over three years.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Computer software can ease the burden of paperwork in fish farming, and the latest release of Fishy 2001 will continue to help farmers make the most of their ponds.
On April 1, Fishy 2001 a microcomputer program developed at Mississippi State University will be available for fish farmers. Fishy records, analyzes and makes reports for fish farmers to keep track of fish numbers, feedings, weights and sizes.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Heat has traditionally threatened Mississippi's catfish, but this year's hot temperatures have not been an issue as most producers are equipped for the challenge.
Algae in catfish ponds supply the oxygen catfish require during the day, but at night the catfish rely on aerators. With high temperatures, catfish require more oxygen in the water. July's near record nighttime temperatures meant catfish producers had to run aerators all night every night and even some cloudy days.
MISSISSIPPI STATE - Biologists are encouraging Mississippi catfish producers to control snails in ponds to combat a parasite that caused some severe fingerling losses last year.
1999 was the first year this internal parasite, a trematode tentatively identified as Bolbophorus confusus, was found in Mississippi Delta channel catfish. It is rarely fatal to large catfish, but it can kill young catfish, or fingerlings.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Catfish is not a new agricultural commodity to Mississippi, but research is underway on a new variety that may replace channel catfish as king of the farm ponds.
As a relatively new and growing industry in East Mississippi, catfish has emerged as a viable economic entity in the hilly Blackland Prairie region of the state. For the last 10 years, East Mississippi production has been primarily in Kemper, Noxubee, Lowndes, Clay, Monroe and Chickasaw counties, but there were no local suppliers of fingerlings.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- For years the Mississippi Delta has been known for its production of both cotton and farm-raised catfish, but now the fish also swim in East Mississippi ponds as producers are realizing its economic potential.
No longer considered just Southern fare, catfish is the fifth most popular fish in America. In 1998, it was one of the top-five agricultural commodities in Mississippi and had a value-added production of more than $306 billion, up 15 percent from 1997.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Bacterial and fungal problems that can kill millions of catfish eggs a year can be kept under control with simple chemical baths, a practice that saves the industry thousands of dollars a year.
Mississippi State University's Extension Service is showing catfish hatcheries that some devastating disease problems can be solved by flushing egg masses twice daily with iodine or other antibacterial/antifungal compounds.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Living in the water doesn't spare Mississippi's catfish from the effects of summer heat as recent daytime pond temperatures have reached the high 90s.
Jim Steeby, area Extension aquaculture agent with Mississippi State University's National Warmwater Aquaculture Center, said water temperatures in the Delta where he is located have stayed at 95 degrees in the afternoon since the last week of July. While catfish thrive in warm weather, this level is too hot.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Catfish producers are among the few Mississippi farmers happy with the current market situation.
Jim Steeby, district aquaculture agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Stoneville, said temperatures and markets have favored catfish farmers this year.
"This is shaping up to be one of our best years for catfish with the price of feed and the price of fish," Steeby said. "Catfish is definitely the only bright spot on the agriculture scene so far this year."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Growing crawfish with rice has become a common way to produce this popular shellfish, but the practice has been more successful in Louisiana than it has in Mississippi.
In 1997, Louisiana landed almost 23 million pounds of crawfish worth nearly $13 million. The state produced another 47 million pounds through aquaculture at a value of nearly $28 million. Much of this crawfish is consumed in the state, and very little leaves the South.