Crawfish catch down

LSU AgCenter crawfish researchers urged producers to wait patiently for this year’s crawfish crop, which has been later than usual. “The catch at our research station is down by half,” said Robert Romaire, LSU AgCenter aquaculture researcher, at one of several meetings held with producers in February.

Sessions were held in Jennings, Abbeville, Marksville and Crowley, La.

Producers at the Jennings meeting said their catch is off also. “It’s not too good right now,” said Jackie Dicky of Elton, La. He said the crawfish are small in size and number.

Byron Stroud of Jefferson Davis Parish said he usually starts harvesting crawfish in January. “We haven’t started fishing because they’re just so small,” Stroud said.

He said the cold weather probably has kept the crawfish small. “They’re just not going to grow in the cold,” Stroud said.

Stroud has been in the crawfish business for 20 years, and he said he can’t remember a season like this one. “It’s about the slowest start-off I’ve ever had,” he said.

Ray McClain, LSU AgCenter crawfish researcher, said without flooding prior to November or heavy fall rains, the harvest of young crawfish could be delayed until February. Without timely rains, many crawfish were likely to remain in their burrows, he said, noting it wasn’t until November that the Crowley area received a good soaking rain.

Colder-than-normal temperatures this winter may have prevented crawfish from growing normally, McClain said.

Romaire said young crawfish require about three to four months to reach marketable size, so a September hatch, for example, won’t become a harvestable crop until December.

Romaire also said research has shown the use of additional hay or other supplementary food for crawfish probably doesn’t increase crawfish size or yield significantly and is not economical in most cases.

“That’s been studied more than any research topic,” Romaire said.

He said a higher crawfish population usually results in smaller crawfish.

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