Pacific white shrimp (Paneais Vannamei) in freshwater
March through October is the shrimp season on the Wood Brothers
Farm in Gila Bend Arizona. In the beginning, the shrimp start out about the size
of a gnat or fingernail clipping. By the time, they are ready to be harvested,
the shrimp are in the 15 to 30-gram range. "We really have two purposes," Wood
said. "we want to raise commercial shrimp but also brood stock shrimp." The
brood stock, male and female shrimp used for mating, sell for \$40 to $50 each.
The Woods' brood stock is particularly valuable considering the precautions
taken and absence of contamination. "Isolation helps us stay so clean," Wood
said. "The shrimp industry in most parts of the world is wracked with diseases.
That's one of the reasons you are always seeing little shrimp. They find out
about disease and then they harvest the right then."
The shrimp grown on the Gila Bend farm are Paneais Vannamei, a Pacific white shrimp prized for its meaty tail. Air temperature and water quality have been cited as reasons for the shrimp's phenomenal growth. Gila Bend's temperatures are, after all, somewhat notorious, especially the summer. Well water is used in the farm's tanks and ponds with salt added only in the initial stages of acclimation.
"Shrimp can tolerate low salinity. We saw that in Ecuador," Wood said.
That is where he and other farm personnel learned so much of what they know about shrimp. For some 40 years, the Wood family has farmed in Arizona, most recently serving as the management team on the Paloma Ranch near Gila Bend. When the ranch changed hands, Wood and some other ranch personnel were sent to Ecuador to learn about shrimp farming. "In Ecuador, the shrimp was so high in quality that we were shipping to Europe," Wood said.
Returning from South America, Wood installed the shrimp operation on the farm four years ago. the venture has yet to turn a profit, but Wood thinks it's just a matter of time - and taste.
"We haven't had any publicity until this year," Wood said, breaking into a smile. "The reason is we wanted to make sure we would succeed."
Wood Brothers Shrimp Farm
P.O. Box A1, Gila Bend AZ, 85337
Tel. (623) 393-0136
FAX - (623) 393-0158