ALABAMA LEADS IN FOODFISH SALES PER ACRE
Alabama catfish producers are growing more fish per acre than other major producing states, according to the 2004 USDA catfish producer survey.
The survey of commercial catfish farmers showed that Alabama growers sold an
average of 6,800 pounds per acre in 2003. Growers harvested a total of 158
million pounds of catfish from 22,900 acres of water devoted to foodfish
production in 2003. That resulted in total foodsize fish sales of $82.2
Mississippi was second with an average of 4,569 pounds of foodsize fish sold
per acre from a total of 86,000 water acres used for foodfish. Total
income was $224 million.
The USDA survey said Arkansas producers sold an average 3,498 pounds of foodsize catfish per acre from a total of 28,500 water acres used for foodfish. Income from foodfish sales totaled $55.8 million.
Louisiana growers sold an average of 3,038 pounds per acre from a total of 8,600 water acres used for foodfish production.
Alabama Fish Farming Center fish biologist Greg Whitis attributed the higher per acre catfish production to several factors including deeper fish ponds, availability of processing markets and close work with center personnel to maximize effectiveness of pond management.
Whitis noted that most fish farms are located on rolling land in which levees have been built to capture surface water. These ponds range in depth from 4 ft. to 12 ft, enabling growers to stock more heavily than traditional levee ponds.