Saturday, September 22, 2001

Shrimp go fast at harvest

Ky. family owns number of ponds

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

[photo] Lucas Price (right) and grandfather Dick Price empty nets of Malaysian prawns into a holding tank.
(Patrick Reddy photos)
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        RYLAND - Stephen Price and his family had a big time Friday thanks to some small creatures.

        The family's annual shrimp harvest - which Mr. Price said is equal parts festival and work - began Friday at Bluegrass Shrimp and Fish on Ernst Ridge Road. Mr. Price said there may not be any crustaceans if you wait too long today.

        “We should have 1,000 pounds or more,” Mr. Price said. “We usually sell out of our shrimp by Saturday morning. We sell our shrimp until we run out.”

        Bluegrass usually sells out. Mr. Price said local restaurants buy much of what he sells.

        “We've developed a mailing list,” Mr. Price said. “It's really word of mouth and a little advertising.”

        Mr. Price has two shrimp ponds.His son Kyle and daughter Jennifer Metcalf run a smaller shrimp pond near Alexandria.

        The Kentucky shrimp industry is relatively young. Mr. Price said it's been around about seven years and that his is the first farm in the state.

[photo] Malaysian prawns are among the shrimp harvested at Bluegrass Shrimp and Fish.
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        Ted Crowell, assistant director of Division of Fisheries for the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources office in Frankfort, said there are only about 20 shrimp farms in all of Kentucky.

        “We sell them permits, but we're not pushing (the industry),” Mr. Crowell said. Permits are needed because shrimp farmers work with live organisms.

        Mr. Price said next year's crop of Great River Prawns — which came to the U.S. from Malaysia in the 1960s — starts this month with breeding. By next month, females, who can lay up to 35,000 eggs each, are placed in two 1,000-gallon tanks of 80-degree briny saltwater, where they stay until February.

        Because the growing shrimp often eat each other in addition to the high-protein mash left over from making whiskey, only about 50 percent of the shrimp grow to their final weight of 40-50 grams. Still, there's a lot of shrimp — about 28,000 per acre.

        By Friday, the Prices drained the ponds, scooped up what shrimp they could with nets and hand picked the rest.

        “We're farmers,” Mr. Price said. “We have raised tobacco. This is an alternative to tobacco.”


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