Time for Crab Harvest, Taste in Chongming
“The autumn wind rises, and the crab's feet itch.” As the saying goes, it's time to taste crabs. On October 21, the "Golden Autumn for Harvest of Crabs: 2023 Chongming Clear Water Crab Harvesting Festival” and the Second Crab Culture Festival in Baozhen Town kicked off at the Huikang Base of Chongming River Crab Group, marking the official start of crab harvesting in 2023.
At the event, the Group signed a "Chongming No.1" seed source ordering agreement with two breeding bases, jointly opening a new chapter in the development of river crab farming. Chongming Huabo Guesthouse and Daodao Fresh Chongming Private Vegetables were awarded the medal of "2023 Exclusive Supply Unit". On the same day, the highest quality "350-Gram Red" crab made its debut and went on sale at the site.
The Chongming clear water crabs were caught at the launch ceremony. In the basket, the crabs are all showing their teeth and claws, unusually fierce, and quite large. The festival is not only a grand event for appreciating scenery and crabs, but also a grand stage for showcasing Chongming's unique agricultural products and high-quality brand merchants. At the Nongfu Market, besides crabs, there are other high-quality Chongming specialty products from five major conglomerates in Chongming, as well as intangible cultural heritage handicrafts, attracting numerous visitors to watch.
During the comprehensive evaluation of Chongming clear water crabs, one of the highlights of this event, 10 companies sent their crabs for professional scoring by industry experts on site, who unanimously gave high praise to the crabs. In the highly anticipated "Crab King and Crab Queen" competition, which was quite intense, the crabs of the River Crab Group from its Huikang Base and Haitang Lake Base respectively won the titles of "Crab King" and "Crab Queen".
Chongming is the birthplace of Chinese mitten crabs, and the development of the river crab industry has been going on for decades. After innovative try and breeding, it’s time for Chongming crabs to have a bigger stage.
Since 2022, relying on the construction of a national agricultural technology modernization pilot zone, Chongming has continued to deepen cooperation with Shanghai Ocean University. Based on the improved variety of river crab "Jianghai No. 21", a new river crab "Chongming No. 1" has been jointly developed, laying a solid foundation for enhancing the competitiveness of Chongming river crabs and establishing an integrated base for "breeding and promotion" of Chongming river crabs.
In May last year, five leading crab enterprises in Chongming jointly established Shanghai Chongming River Crab Development Group Co., Ltd., comprehensively integrating the entire industry chain resources from seedling breeding, crab production, and adult crab breeding, to brand sales, transforming the small crabs into a big industry for prosperity and assisting in rural revitalization and development.
The establishment of the River Crab Group laid the foundation for unified aquaculture technology. All parties jointly formulated the "Green Production Technical Regulations for Chongming Clear Water Crabs", which standardized the environmental conditions, facilities and equipment, production management, and tailwater discharge requirements for crab breeding. At the same time, a professional research team escorts the "Chongming No. 1 Crab" project. The district aquatic technology department closely cooperates with Professor Wang Chenghui's team from Shanghai Ocean University, focusing on the breeding and growing of Chongming river crabs. At the bases of Huikang, Baodao, Yuhaitang, etc. of Chongming River Crab Group, the department systematically promotes germplasm research, technological innovation, and model application.
The Huikang Aquaculture Professional Cooperative located in Nanhai Village, Baozhen Town continues to deepen its aquaculture technology, making Chongming clear water crabs larger and of better quality. At the same time, it actively explores new models such as greenhouse aquaculture and intercropping of marsh shrimps, achieving higher economic benefits.
“There are many pitfalls in aquaculture, but our strategies are more diverse." After only two and a half years of raising crabs with his father in Baozhen Town, Gu Liubin has already become an expert. “On the one hand, I rely on my exploration, constantly searching for information for self-learning, and visiting production areas outside of the province. At the same time, I work closely with universities and institutions in the agricultural field to assist in the implementation of research projects." With the efforts of him and his father, Huikang Cooperative continues to cultivate aquaculture technology, successfully exploring the interculture mode of Chongming clear water crabs, marsh shrimps, red crayfishes, etc., significantly improving the efficiency of aquaculture per unit area.
At the end of June this year, when there was still a whole quarter before Chongming clear water crabs’ launch on a large scale, many adult crabs from Huikang Cooperative had reached 200 grams. This is mainly due to the cooperative's first attempt this year to adopt a greenhouse aquaculture model. It is understood that the main advantage of greenhouse aquaculture is that the breeding cycle starts earlier, and the timing of crabs entering the pond and changing shells is advanced, thereby gaining market opportunities. Compared to the same period of wild farming, crabs raised in greenhouses need to have their shells changed once more, with a weight of more than 50-75 grams.
This year is the last year for Huikang Cooperative to focus on the "Jianghai No. 21" high-quality water crab as its main product. In the vast crab pond, the crab seedlings of the new product "Chongming No. 1" clear water crab are thriving. Although they are not yet the size of nails, they have stronger vitality and grow faster. It is expected that by September next year, this excellent variety will be able to meet the public and become a new signature of Chongming clear water crab.
The Haitang Lake Base in Sanxing Town is the largest single-water body freshwater crab production base in Shanghai. To further understand the water quality of aquaculture in Haitang Lake, technical personnel irregularly conduct spot checks on the water quality of the lake. During the ecological seedling stage, the team led by Wang Chenghui from Shanghai Ocean University ran between the seedling breeding base and the crab breeding pond. One doctoral and two master's students were stationed at the base for a long time, working and living together with the personnel of the breeding base, and recording information throughout the process, providing strong data support and theoretical basis for the establishment of a standardized system.
Ecological technology empowers crab farming. In recent years, Baodao Crab Farm has pioneered a low-carbon photovoltaic aquaculture model, with some clear water crab ponds covered with a layer of solar photovoltaic panels. These photovoltaic panels not only convert solar energy into electricity, but also serve as natural "air conditioners" for crab ponds, allowing river crabs to live in "air-conditioned rooms". In the future, these ecological farming experiences can be promoted in the River Crab Group.
“To raise crabs well, one must sell them well." In the view of Huang Chun, the chairman of Chongming River Crab Group, it is also crucial to increase the added value of agricultural products based on improving aquaculture. He said that the excellent ecological environment in Chongming contains infinite potential, and the "ecological+" empowerment can better transform ecological advantages into development advantages. Chongming River Crab Group will, taking the opportunity of attracting visitors to taste the good crabs of Chongming, guide the gathering of agricultural and tourism spots to drive rural revitalization as its future development direction.