The Bill Crites farm is a family farm of 17 acres in Chaffee, Missouri. The farm is in Scott County, Missouri, which is in the Southeast part of the state. Of the 17 acres, 10 acres are in ponds specifically for the production of shrimp and other aquatic species.
There are four ponds on the farm from approximately 2 to 2.5 acres in size. The ponds are sloped, with a drainpipe in the lower end. Shrimp are harvested by placing a net over the drain outlet and then removing the water. A converted dairy barn serves as the processing and storage facility. In 2005, over 2100 pounds of shrimp were harvested from these ponds. In 2006, over 2500 pounds of shrimp were harvested from one 2.33 acre pond.
Mr. Crites also raises livestock. Mr. Crites lives with his wife, and their two children.
Before receiving the grant there were no sustainable agriculture practices incorporated on the Crites farm.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
Objective One. Quantify the production of Pacific White Shrimp in Southeast Missouri. There is minimal data available on the production of Pacific White Shrimp in the Midwest in small farm ponds. In a well-managed production system, yield could exceed 3000 lbs per acre, equating to over 27,000 pounds of shrimp annually from the Crites farm.
Objective Two. Develop local marketing channels for shrimp. In Southeast Missouri, shrimp is considered a delicacy. Local supermarkets sell thawed shrimp and local restaurants offer shrimp on the menu. However, accessing these markets has proved difficult. The Local Shrimp Production and Marketing project developed a series of strategies for marketing fresh shrimp in a rural area of the Midwest.
Process. Mr. Crites produced the Pacific White Shrimp in 2005 and 2006. Plans are to produce shrimp in 2007. During this time, Mr. Crites collected data on both the cost of production and income from the sale of the shrimp. Additionally, Mr. Crites explored numerous methods of marketing the shrimp. Finally, Mr. Crites worked with local University of Missouri Extension personnel to educate local farmers about the potential of producing Pacific White Shrimp in Southeast Missouri.
The following people and their organizations have cooperated with Mr. Crites on this project:
Dr. Van H. Ayers; Agriculture and Rural Development Specialist, University of Missouri Extension. Dr. Ayers has assisted Mr. Crites in his education components, featuring Mr. Crites at three separate conferences.
Mr. Scott Crumpecker; RC&D Coordinator, Dexter, MO; USDA-NRCS. Mr. Crumpecker assisted Mr. Crites with the education component of the project, and assisted in the SARE grant application.
Dr. Wes Mueller, Professor, Southeast Missouri State University; Mr. Dennis Rodemeier, Southeast Missouri State; Dr. Mueller and Mr. Rodemeier have expressed interest in continuing the production and marketing of Pacific White Shrimp on the Southeast Missouri State University Farm. Additional questions will be quantified about both production and marketing of this type of aquatic species.
Dr. Scott Pringle; Dr. Pringle is a local physician actively involved with this project. Dr. Pringle assisted in marketing the product. Additionally Dr. Pringle financed the majority of the expense, with the hope of developing a new enterprise for southeast Missouri farmers.
Pacific White Shrimp can be grown successfully in farm ponds in Southeast Missouri. In 2005, there were 2100 lbs. of Pacific White Shrimp harvested on 10 acres of pond surface area. In 2006, there were 2500 lbs. of Pacific White Shrimp harvested from one 2.33 acre pond.
The difference between the 2005 and 2006 yield was because a better and more efficient aeration system was installed and operated during the 2006 season. This system consisted of a 1.5 horsepower regenerated blower, using corrugated plastic drainage tubing with air stones hanging from the tubes. This concept had been used on other shrimp farm systems. Clearly, with a better-managed aeration system, production should increase in 2007. Plans are to grow 10 acres of Pacific White Shrimp for the 2007 season.
Rainbow Trout were also produced during the winter of 2005-06. In the spring of 2006, there were 1250 lbs. of trout harvested from 2.33 acres. Approximately 700 fingerlings were stocked at .3 lbs, for a total weight of 210 lbs. Therefore, approximately 1000 lbs. of gain were added to the fish during the winter months. These fish were sold to wholesale buyers.
When the system was evaluated for the 2005 season, there was no profit. In 2006, there was about $14,000 of sales. When variable costs were removed, there was about $5000 remaining for labor and fixed costs.
The marketing of the shrimp has been problematic. Numerous approaches have been taken; these include the sale of the shrimp at the pond bank; the sale of shrimp at a business location with a portable cooler; direct sale of shrimp to restaurants; retail of shrimp from local convenience stores; sale of shrimp at farmers markets and direct sale of shrimp at the farm. Of these the most successful, in order, have been:
1. Pond bank – This tends to be the easiest with the least labor and effort involved, in 2007 it is anticipated that this market will increase dramatically once local people understand the availability of this product.
2. Sale of shrimp at a local business – Shrimp were sold at a local orchard and fruit market in a neighboring community – about 25% of the harvest was sold in this manner in 2006. This took one weekend of effort.
3. Retail of shrimp from a local convenience store – Mr. Crites purchased and is presently operating a convenience store in Chaffee, Missouri; this allowed the sale of shrimp from the store.
4. Direct sale of shrimp at the farm – This has been minimal, and shrimp are usually purchased by people who know Mr. Crites personally or are familiar with the farm operation.
5. Farmer’s market sales were poor; Restaurant sales have been disappointing, because most restaurateurs’ desire shrimp at specific times and at least cost.
Finally, there was no comparison with conventional systems, since these shrimp had not been previously produced in southeast Missouri. Mr. Crites was the first to grow the Pacific White Shrimp in the region; the few previous producers had grown freshwater prawns, which originate from Southeast Asia. The Pacific White Shrimp have become the major farmed shrimp in the world. Surprisingly this shrimp can be grown inland, under proper production practices. The increased production in 2006 was expected, given the better aeration system.
Of those items that would have been done differently, Mr. Crites would have used a different aeration system earlier. Additionally, markets would have been explored in more detail before production. Mr. Crites has been able to sell almost all the production locally; this has been a result from a continuing effort to market these shrimp.
Pacific White Shrimp can be grown successfully in southeast Missouri. However, there was a severe learning curve with both the production and marketing of these shrimp. The aeration system in 2005 was not sufficient, which stressed the shrimp resulting in a reduction of overall yield. In 2006, a new system was added, and as a result, 2300 lbs. of shrimp were produced in 2.3 acres of pond surface area. This was 25% of the total area of the previous year. There were no changes to the feeding and management between the two years of production.
Pacific White Shrimp can be marketed successfully in southeast Missouri. It has required severe consternation on Mr. Crites’s part to resist marketing the shrimp to conventional bulk markets. Mr. Crites made efforts to assure a premium on this product, emphasizing the freshness of the shrimp and the locality. Therefore, the most successful market has been pond bank sales, and sales at local businesses. Offers were made to Mr. Crites at a conventional price, these were refused and additional freezer space was purchased to store the shrimp, for later sale in the year.
Pacific White Shrimp Production can be produced by a small farmer with minimal land. However, there are capitalization costs, specifically pond construction and equipment. In southeast Missouri, because of the intensity of cropping in the area, land is at a premium, and there are more people desiring to farm than available land. This type of enterprise could be replicated numerous times over, as long as there are local markets for the shrimp.
The personal recommendations from Mr. Crites to other people interested in producing Pacific White Shrimp, is to:
1. Study everything about producing this shrimp, purchase books and attend seminars, talk to other producers in other states and increase your knowledge of water quality.
2. Have a good aeration system – quite clearly the lack of a good aeration system reduced the yield in 2005.
3. Locate your markets, do everything possible to sell your product locally, reduce the desire to sell in the conventional commodity market. Pacific White Shrimp are being imported into the United States from all over the world, market your shrimp as a local fresh and clean product.
1. Availability to the local news media. Both the Southeast Missourian and the Sikeston Standard Democrat featured articles about Mr. Crites and his shrimp production. These efforts were broadcast nationwide.
2. Presentations at Extension functions; Mr. Crites was the speaker at three separate Extension meetings, and a tour. These included:
a. 2006 Agriculture Tourism Conference, Sikeston, Missouri. Mr. Crites presented information on his shrimp production system, as related to increasing tourism in the area. Seventy people attended.
b. 2006, 2005 Farm Bank Tour. At harvest, 20 people visited with Mr. Crites to discuss the production of shrimp.
c. Aquaculture Conference, Jackson, Missouri, 2007. Mr. Crites was a member of a farmer panel, discussing local aquaculture systems. Information on this project was discussed with local aquaculture producers. Forty people attended.
d. 2007 Agriculture Tourism Conference, Bloomfield, Missouri. Mr. Crites presented information on shrimp production, and updated a group of tourism officials on his efforts. There were 75 people in attendance.
3. In 2006, Mr. Crites welcomed local Cub Scout Packs to fish for trout in his farm ponds. This was the first time some of the scouts had been fishing, and the first time others had caught fish. This effort created good will with the local community, and explored a new potential market outlet for trout. Trout are produced in the same ponds as the shrimp, through the winter. There were 25 scouts including parents that participated in two different events.
There are no recommended changes.