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The Catfish Switch: Farmers Turn to Rice

by the Fish Site Editor
20 November 2008, at 12:00am

ARKANSAS, US - One of the consequences of falling catfish prices is the removal of ponds from production. Many of those ponds will end up planted in rice. What are the issues surrounding such a switch?

Ive had a few calls from farmers asking about this, Chuck Wilson, Arkansas Extension rice specialist, told DeltaFarmPress. Im told more ponds are going into rice.

According to the news agency, Wilson says such a dramatic shift shouldnt be done without serious consideration and study.

Really it all boils down to which crop rice or catfish is perceived to be more profitable. Obviously, if the soil will hold water for catfish itll do fine with rice. Thats one positive for the switch.

One main concern with catfish-to-rice is potentially high salt levels. Some land was put in ponds many years ago because local water was too salty for growing rice.

DeltaFarmPress reports that this isnt always the case. Some catfish ponds may have salty soils because salt is sometimes applied as a disease-control agent for the fish. Before making the switch, producers must know what the salt levels are, says Wilson.

the Fish Site Editor