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Southeast Missouri farmers reap a fishy harvest

US - More farmers in southeast Missouri are growing prawns tasty relatives of the saltwater shrimp that have become a popular choice at restaurants and grocery stores. This years prawn harvest is just getting under way, and will feature "sea food" festivals and other events to celebrate the bounty.

Farmers in southern Illinois and southeast Missouri are draining ponds to find out how their prawn crop weathered the season. Farmers have to remove the water to get to the bottom feeders to know exactly how many have survived and grown to healthy adults.

"It’s faith farming," said Charles Mattingly, who runs Glade Creek Farm in Des Arc, Mo., with his wife, Norma. "You never really know until you harvest what your results are going to be."

The prawn season starts in late spring when juveniles are put in ponds after the last cold snaps have passed. For 100 days or so, farmers toss feed into the ponds. A net is cast at least once a week to measure growth. Once it appears the prawns are the right size —— a bit plump with a body about six inches long —— it’s harvest time.

Source: DailyJournalOnline