Harvest begins for 'long leg' Yangtze River hairy crab

Yang Jian
Harvesting of Shanghai hairy crabs began on Sunday to compete with those from neighboring provinces and highlight the city's rural revitalization campaign.
Yang Jian
Harvest begins for 'long leg' Yangtze River hairy crab
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Luojing farmers collect Yangtze River hairy crabs in the traditional way on Sunday.

Harvesting of Shanghai hairy crabs began on Sunday to compete with those from neighboring provinces and highlight the city's rural revitalization campaign.

Farmers from Luojing Town in north Baoshan District began collecting the hairy crabs from ponds and rice fields as part of the 2021 Farmers' Harvest Festival.

Crab lovers will now be able to taste the seasonal local crustaceans without driving out of Shanghai.

Downtown citizens and expats are invited to enjoy the pastoral scenery and catch the hairy crabs themselves as well as witness how much of the city's agricultural products originate in the town.

Luojing crabs are known for their size, long legs, tighter meat and rich roe as well as a slight, naturally sweet flavor. They grow within the city's tap water source conservation area at the mouth of the Yangtze River.

The crabs spawn there every October, and villagers catch the biggest baby crabs and raise them in ponds and rice fields. It takes two years, twice as long as for other hairy crabs, for them to grow to full size. Yangtze River crabs are fed with fresh snails, algae, corn, fish and beans.

"The yield remains the same for the locally produced hairy crabs this year, despite the continuous rains in summer and high temperature after the liqiu, or the autumn begins," said Bo Huizhong, Party secretary of Haixing Village of Luojing.

"But this year's hairy crabs are bigger than that of last year with better quality," Bo said, adding the golden season for hairy crab tasting has begun.

Harvest begins for 'long leg' Yangtze River hairy crab
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

A farmer catches a hairy crab with his hands.

Harvest begins for 'long leg' Yangtze River hairy crab
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The biggest male Yangtze River hairy crab weighs 480 grams.

The biggest male crab in the first harvest on Sunday weighed 480 grams, compared with 460 grams last year, while the "queen crab" weighed 360 grams, compared with 330 grams in 2020.

The Yangtze River hairy crab has won the gold medal in a national hairy competition for nine consecutive years to become a highlight of Shanghai characteristic agricultural industry.

More than 300 local families raced through the countryside of Luojing on Sunday to experience the natural atmosphere of the open countryside, paddy fields and forest. Runners were also invited to harvest grain while enjoying the fresh air in the city's showpiece rural revitalization areas near the mouth of the Yangtze River.

The crab bonanza and annual jogging event are part of the town's efforts to develop tourism to attract gourmands from downtown. It aims to become Shanghai's pilot town for the rural revitalization campaign.

Villages in Luojing are among the richest in Shanghai. Tangwan Village has been listed as one of the city's first batch of demonstration villages to implement the central government's rural revitalization plan.

It is followed by four neighboring villages – Haixing, Huahong, Xinlu and Yangqiao – to become an agricultural demonstration zone. Each village has a characteristic product, such as the hairy crab, rice and taro.

Tangwan Village is creating China's first "maternal and infant manor" to take care of new mothers during their month-long "confinement period." Villagers are being encouraged to convert their spare space into the confinement, or yuezi, centers.

Harvest begins for 'long leg' Yangtze River hairy crab
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Local families are invited to jog through the farmland and forest of Luojing Town.

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