“The only thing predictable about crawfish is the unpredictable.”Dane Hebert, crawfish farmer
LAFAYETTE, LA — It’s crawfish season once again in Louisiana, and if you’ve been waiting since last spring for a crawfish boil, you might be surprised by the prices we are seeing already. In Vermilion Parish one seller said it might be the best season we’ve had in years.
“Let’s see if I can fire Ol’ Betsy up,” Dane Hebert said as we climbed into his crawfish boat.
On his farm in Maurice, crawfish season is beginning to warm up.
“Actually a pretty decent catch,” said Hebert as he pulled about a half-pound of crawfish up from a trap. He said his traps house up to two pounds on their best days.
In his four decades of farming crawfish, he’s had lean years and bountiful ones, but producers say 2020 looks promising.
“It looks like more crawfish out there than I’ve seen in a long time,” expressed Don Benoit, owner of D & T Crawfish in Abbeville.
A mild winter means crawfish are more active and ready to take the bait this season. Benoit said we can expect better prices because of it.
“It’s an earlier season, so we’re catching up,” said Benoit. “People are coming in earlier than we normally get them. It’s just everything is going to be a little earlier. It looks like a month ahead of schedule.”
Benoit is going through 600 sacks of crawfish right now, but during peak season he sees as much as 2400 sacks a day.
“It hasn’t gotten there yet?” I asked D & T Crawfish cook Kenneth Boudreaux. “No, but it’s about to be that,” Boudreaux replied.
“Crawfish is always a good buy at whatever price,” admitted LSU Ag Center Crawfish Specialist Mark Shirley.
According to the LSU Ag Center, more acres of farmland are producing crawfish this year, and are expected to produce close to 150 million pounds of mudbugs.
“A lot of these crawfish will be consumed here by locals as much as we can eat,” added Shirley. “But a lot of it does go out to neighboring states and pretty much around the country.”
That means it is a dependable crop when major rice buyers like China pull out.
“Typically in the past, the rice farm basically took care of itself without crawfish,” noted Hebert who said rice prices have been lack-luster the last seven to eight years. “Now we’re almost having to depend on the crawfish to support the farm. It’s gotten to be a necessity instead of a luxury.”
But on the plate, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying yourself.
“Crawfish season is starting. Come give a try,” Boudreaux pleaded. “All I’m asking is one try. You’ll be back.”
If that kicked your appetite into high gear, here are the current prices at D and T Crawfish.