CROWLEY, La. (KLFY) — Crawfish prices are anticipated to be overall higher than last year. Inflation is affecting everybody including crawfish farmers who are having to pay more for their fuel, their bait, and their labor. An increased supply should help now that farmers are ramping up their harvests with migrant workers, but colder weather is counteracting that by limiting daily catches.
“You got to make sure you make dollars on it because you don’t want to end up just spinning your wheels out there and wasting money, stated John Sonnier, crawfish farmer and LSU Ag Center research associate.
Sonier has been researching the best ways to farm crawfish for 31 years at the LSU Ag Center Rice Research Station in Crowley. In that time, he’s learned the basics of how to prepare a fertile pond, but also, that Mother Nature has the final say.
According to Sonnier, “You do your best, and you do the same thing the second year, and it changes.”
Predicting how to make the most out of the few months mudbugs emerge from the ground has been part of the LSU AgCenter’s job for over 50 years.
“Almost everything about crawfish production,” stated LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant Crawfish Specialist Mark Shirley. “They’ve looked at the types of traps. We used to use pillow traps. We’ve looked at types of baits, vegetation in the ponds, population density, as well as the whole habitat management, and that’s what it takes to grow crawfish.”
Shirley says the crawfish season does best when we have temperatures in the 70s and 80s. He also added the catch typically picks up in January and February once the hatchlings grow to a harvestable size, but it also takes cooperation from the temperature.
“We had good fall growing conditions. Now we’re starting to get winter conditions. That’s going to slow things down a bit. They are a cold-blooded animal, crustacean, that the warmer it is the faster they grow, and conversely the colder it is the smaller they grow and the smaller they move,” Shirley explained.
Water temperatures lag behind surface temperatures by a couple of days depending on the amount of wind and sunshine. If Spring gets too warm too quickly, it can shorten the season as well. 90-degree temperatures lead to less oxygen in the water, and crawfish burrowing down for next year.
As Sonnier put it, “You can’t make them go to the trap until they’re ready.”
Crawfish spots are opening up across Acadiana, and whether you have had 5 pounds yet or zero, the LSU Ag Center says there will be no shortage of crawfish if you are looking for them and encourage the taste will be worth the price.