Hairy crabs rise

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - ByZHANGKUN in Shang­hai zhangkun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Big price hikes for hairy crabs could reach as high as 40 per­cent as the sea­son ap­proaches.

Hairy crab lovers are go­ing to have to fork out more to eat the crus­tacean this year, as wet mar­ket prices for the sea­sonal del­i­cacy have soared by up to 40 per­cent from last year.

Hairy crabs, also known as Chi­nese mit­ten crabs be­cause of their furry claws, are na­tive to the coastal es­tu­ar­ies of East Asia and has for cen­turies been rec­og­nized as a del­i­cacy. Ar­ti­fi­cially fed and kept in fresh wa­ter, these shelled crea­tures reach ma­tu­rity in fall and are best con­sumed dur­ing the months of Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber when the crabs are abun­dant in roe.

Shi Xiaox­ing, a crab farmer from Yangcheng Lake, said that the “out of wa­ter price” for crabs from this area is a record 440 yuan ($66) per kilo­gram. Hairy crabs are usu­ally sold in pairs com­pris­ing one of each gen­der. Shao Huamei, a hairy crab ven­dor in a wet mar­ket added that the price may fluc­tu­ate de­pend­ing on the vol­ume of crabs avail­able.

Yangcheng Lake in the south of Jiangsu province, lo­cated about an hour’s drive from Shang­hai, is one of the most fa­mous pro­duc­tion bases for these crabs. This year, the lake kicked off its crab har­vest on Sept 23.

Ac­cord­ing to Ma Gang, deputy direc­tor of the local agri­cul­tural ad­min­is­tra­tion, Yangcheng Lake will pro­duce 2,100 tons of crabs this year, only 5 per­cent more than last year, be­cause pro­duc­tion has been af­fected by bad weather.

Ma also told local news por­tal The Pa­per that the crabs har­vested this year are on av­er­age 4.5 per­cent smaller com­pared to those from last sea­son, though he as­sured that the qual­ity has not been af­fected. Based on Sept 19 sam­ple re­sults, the av­er­age weights of male and fe­male crabs were 180 and 135 grams re­spec­tively.

An­other ma­jor pro­duc­tion base for hairy crabs is Taihu Lake. On Sept 25, the Suzhou Taihu Lake crab trade union leader Qian Caiyuan said that prices of crabs from this area have risen by 30 per­cent from last year to about 320 yuan per kg.

Q ian ex­plained that the pro­duc­tion of crabs was af­fected by the high rain­fall dur­ing the months of April and May and the ex­cep­tion­ally high tem­per­a­tures dur­ing the sum­mer. He ex­pects the na­tional pro­duc­tion of hairy crabs to drop by 30 per­cent this year.

Qian added that the har­vest sea­son this year ar­rived a few weeks later than usual, which has re­sulted in mar­ket de­mand ac­cu­mu­lat­ing since the MidAu­tumn Fes­ti­val.

Gaochun in sub­ur­ban Nan­jing of Jiangsu province as well as Hubei and Hu­nan prov­inces had also an­nounced the com­mence­ment of their crab har­vests over the week­end.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Unideal weather con­di­tions this year have af­fected the hairy crab har­vest, which will be 30 per­cent smaller this year.

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