Recently, due to high temperatures, the yield of hairy crabs in Yangcheng Lake, China has decreased significantly. Due to a lack of oxygen, the crabs were either dead or “seriously injured.” According to preliminary estimates by crab farmers in Xinghua, Jiangsu province, which is known as the Number 1 Chinese Hairy Crab City, on average a household has lost at least 2,000 crab from this year’s harvest. Moreover, the drop in production also caused the price of crab to skyrocket.

China’s “Times Finance” newspaper on August 30 reported that since July, Jiangsu has suffered high temperatures of about 40 C (104 F), affecting the last molt of the crab. On August 29, crab farmer Wang in Gucheng Lake, Gaochun County, Jiangsu province, said, “It’s really boiling this summer, which has affected the final molt of the crabs. When it’s too hot, they eat less and grow very slowly.” He continued, “The hairy crab farming has lost money this year”, and getting them to market may also be delayed.

August is an important period for hairy crabs to molt. Wang said crab seeding is usually done in ponds a month after the Lunar New Year, and after that, they have to molt five times before they can be brought to market on the eve of the Mid-Autumn Festival. He said: “This year is really difficult. Normally at the end of August we start to try crabs at home; if the crabs are qualified, we will start selling in early September. This year I tried three crabs, but they didn’t qualify, so we will not sell for the Mid-Autumn Festival.”

Xiao Yang (pseudonym), a local crab farmer, who runs a 70-hectare crab pond, said that as the local economy mainstay, the crab trade in Jiangsu province has always led with high output and the earliest time to market in the country. However, this year the local hairy crab production has significantly declined.

He told Times Finance: “One hectare of land can accommodate more than 1,000 crabs. But the high temperature plus a lack of oxygen for a long time has led to the massive death of the crabs. More than 2,000 crabs were dead in my pond already.” He said that the high temperatures reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, and the crabs are then deprived of enough oxygen. In the absence of oxygen, crabs are not only susceptible to problems such as soft shells, unsuccessful molting, but also sickness and death. Therefore, crab farmers can only add an oxygen generator to the aquarium.

Yang said: “For a large crab pond, several tanks may be needed. This year, to cool the water, we even put ice in the lake.” He said that under normal conditions like in previous years, there was neither the need to install an oxygen supply machine, nor frequently change of water, putting ice in the water is even more unprecedented.

According to pigstoday, this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival has come early, and the demand for hairy crabs straight from production areas has increased. However, the decrease in production due to high temperatures coupled with the increased costs has a direct impact on the market price of the crabs.

According to news.iresearch, half of China’s hairy crab production comes from Jiangsu province, and half of the crabs in Jiangsu come from Xinghua City, Suqian Town, and Gao Chun County. Compared to last year, this year’s hairy crabs are slow to grow, and they are much smaller. This not only makes it difficult for many crab farmers, but consumers who want to eat crabs during the Mid-Autumn Festival may also have to spend more money.

Times Finance reported that a salesman of Jiangsu Yangchenghu Hairy Crab Company Limited, a subsidiary of Dahu Aquaculture Company mainly engaged in the production and sales of Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs said that the price of hairy crabs has increased this year by about 40% compared to the same period last year, which may lead some small traders’ to flee because they could not deliver the crabs. 

Although Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs are not available for sale yet, consumers clearly can’t wait any longer.

The sales manager of Yangchenghu Hairy Crab Company told Times Finance: “It is predicted that many small businesses will have to flee by the end of October because they can’t deliver. But we have our own breeding facility, and we have been operating locally for 25 years; we also have lakes and crab farming cooperatives, as long as you are willing to buy from our company, the price will be negotiable.”

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