By law, the funds generated from the check-off are spent to promote Louisiana crawfish, for research on crawfish production and to provide educational information about crawfish and its nutritional value. The LCPRB administers the funds, which usually range from $80,000 to $100,000 per year. Board members represent producers of farmed crawfish, wild crawfish fishermen, crawfish processors, crawfish bait suppliers, retail outlet and restaurant owners, the Louisiana Farm Bureau and landowners engaged in crawfish production.
Persons who purchase artificial crawfish bait or crawfish sacks may obtain a refund of the assessment by written request to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry with copies of receipts or invoices showing the amount of artificial bait or bags purchased.
The LCPRB’s authority to collect fees on bait and sacks must be reauthorized every five years. For the past 25 years, the LSU AgCenter has helped the industry carry out these referenda by allowing producers to cast their ballots at LSU AgCenter parish extension offices. The AgCenter has agreed to assist the crawfish industry with this activity again, and with input from the LCPRB the Nov. 10, 2010 date has been designated for voting. Extension Service parish chairs from every parish office, or the staff members they designate, are authorized to assist by conducting all prescribed duties necessary during voting.PRODUCERS, PLEASE NOTE! By law, in order to be eligible to vote at their local parish Extension Service office, crawfish producers must sign a “register of voting producers” and provide proof of purchase of a minimum of 100 pounds of bait or 100 crawfish sacks during the preceding 12 months. Crawfish producers can vote in the parish they live in OR the parish where they farm or fish, but they may only vote once. Contact Dr. Greg Lutz, Aquaculture Research Station, LSU AgCenter, at 225-765-2848 for more information.
High Crawfish Density Ponds
We recommend 18 to 22 traps per acre for high crawfish density ponds. High crawfish density ponds are usually those in which the pond is managed solely for crawfish (crawfish monocropping) and crawfish are produced in the same pond year after year, often providing yields near or above 1,000 pounds per acre.
Low Density Crawfish Ponds
Distribute 10 to 15 traps/acre for low crawfish density ponds. Low density crawfish ponds are usually new ponds or those in which crawfish are not grown in the same field year after year, such as is practiced in rice-crawfish field rotational systems.
Trap Density and Spacing
Distance Between Rows (feet)
Distance Between Traps (feet)
When using a dip net, about 10 to 20 dips or sweeps pulled quickly across the pond bottom on a regular basis is usually enough for a good, quick population assessment in most ponds. You’ll tend to find more crawfish in patches of vegetation along or near the levee. Do not dip in areas where the grass is so thick that you cannot effectively pull the net along the bottom. The net is selective for small crawfish which is good because we are looking for evidence of successful reproduction.You will usually get your best assessment of the success of crawfish reproduction one to two months after your pond is flooded, or several weeks following a substantial rainfall, particularly if conditions were dry (little or no rainfall) following the flood-up. Remember, many females burrowed high on the levee do not emerge from their burrows with young until heavy rainfalls occur in late fall and early winter. Several weeks are required for the hatchlings to leave the female and distribute themselves throughout the pond. Do not be immediately concerned if you are not catching small crawfish shortly after flood-up because many females may not have emerged and the distribution of those juveniles that have emerged is patchy – they have not yet spread throughout the pond. Crawfish are more active at night, particularly when the water is clear. If you’re not catching young crawfish with your dip net during the day, try dip-netting your pond at dusk or after dark. Be sure to look carefully in the net. Very small crawfish can be easily overlooked – particularly when vegetation and other debris are present in the net. You will also usually find some insects in the dip net, some of which eat juvenile crawfish, and others that will later be eaten by the crawfish as a food source.Sampling crawfish with your dip net once every three or four weeks following flood-up should be adequate. What you are looking for is at least some small crawfish in the net, but don’t expect to find crawfish in every sweep. If you find two to four different size groups of juveniles one to two months after flood-up, that usually is an ideal situation and indicates you’ve had staggered recruitment, which is the best condition to achieve a good crawfish crop. It is difficult to predict yield and harvest size from the number of crawfish caught in a dip net - it is a better tool to verify whether or not you had successful reproduction. That said, we have documented yields of 800-1,000 pounds of crawfish per acre in experimental ponds with December dip-net sweep counts averaging from ¼ to one crawfish/sweep. As in any business, it’s a good idea to write down your observations on dip-net sweeps, to include the average number of crawfish per sweep and the number of distinct size groups for each pond. Compare these observations to your yield at the end of the production season. Over time it may provide you some basis for predicting yield on your individual farming operation.
We suggest the Model 270-F-12 dip net sold by Ed Cummings Inc., 2305 Branch Road, Flint, MI 48506 (1-888-566-6387). This net stands up to vigorous use. It has a 42-inch wooden handle, a 10- by 12-inch frame and the net. The net which is 12-inches deep, is made from 1/16-inch netting, which will catch the smallest crawfish. A net with 1/8-inch or 3/16-inch netting is also acceptable. The dip nets cost about $26 each. Similar nets may be available elsewhere.
Now if the pond is not overpopulated and the crawfish are not stunted, but they are small because they have not yet had time to grow to a desirable market size, there are a couple of management options you can use to increase the size of crawfish in your traps. The first option is to increase the soak time (the time the trap is in the water between baiting and emptying it) from 24 hours to 48 hours or even 72 hours. In other words, run your traps every other day, rather than daily. Smaller crawfish have more time to find their way out of traps before you empty them with a short soak time. Your catch will be reduced with a longer soak time (every-other-day trapping) but the size of crawfish will be larger. A second option is run the traps daily for three or four consecutive days and cease harvest for a few days. This often results in slightly larger crawfish being caught over the season with a minimal reduction in over-all yield when compared to trapping six or seven days per week. You can also combine these options.To make a long answer short, using a 7/8-inch mesh can potentially help increase crawfish size but it is not a solution if the pond is overpopulated. If the pond is not overcrowded consider every-other-day trapping to increase crawfish size, or trap three to four days per week to give the crawfish some additional time to grow.
The presence of additional juveniles stocked in November (secondary wave of recruitment) and November/December (secondary-plus-tertiary waves of recruitment) resulted in nearly a 55 percent increase in crawfish yield (840 pounds per acre) compared to those pools stocked only in October (540 pounds per acre). Additionally, the multiple stockings of crawfish had no effect on the average size of crawfish harvested, which averaged about 19 count per pound in all three systems. This simple study shows the importance that November and December juvenile recruitment waves have towards contributing to the overall crawfish yield and potential profitability.
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