Crawfish farmer Carl Kincaid of Port Barre said he’s never seen a year like this. His crawfish crop on 30 acres isn’t even a third of last year’s catch. He hopes his crawfish may just be late in developing and that he will see an improvement.
“I see a lot of small ones in the traps,” Kincaid said.
LSU AgCenter aquaculture specialist Greg Lutz said crawfish farmers should not give up on this year’s crop yet, because many of the crawfish should grow to marketable size.
The peak of the Louisiana crawfish harvest season usually comes in March and April, Lutz said, but this year the crop might not be at its best until April or May.
Mark Shirley, another LSU AgCenter aquaculture specialist, said rainfall in the Acadiana region is 15-20 inches less than normal, and the crawfish catch appears to be down in most areas.
“I’m guessing you only have a quarter what you should have by now,”
Shirley said. Shirley said crawfish production generally coincides with the amount of rainfall from July through November. The rainfall from that period last year is similar to the scant rainfall that resulted in the drought of 1999.
Turning to another problem, Shirley explained many fields in Vermilion Parish were flooded by Hurricane Rita’s storm surge – which brought redfish, crabs and garfish that fed on the crawfish. “I don’t expect much production to come out of those fields,” he said.
Even areas not affected as heavily by the storm are suffering because vegetation blown into the water by the hurricane has decomposed and robbed the water of oxygen, Shirley said.
In 14,000 acres of Vermilion Parish crawfish ponds, Shirley said only three ponds have produced well during the winter. “Most of the acres across the state are bad,” he said.
(This article appeared in the winter 2006 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture