‘Unprecedented conditions’ lead to rough start to crawfish season

Hebert’s Seafood owner Willie Hebert says this year’s crawfish season, so far, has no comparison.

“I have been here since the mid 1980s and have never experienced anything like this,” he said.

Experts are calling for a short and pricey crawfish season and Hebert agrees.

‘Yes, I have been having difficulty getting supplies, however I do expect things to improve as more farmers are starting,” he said. “The size of the crawfish have been small to medium with a few large mixed in.”

Last February, Hebert’s Seafood was selling live crawfish at $3.49 a pound and boiled at $5.99 per pound. Now, the price is $10.25 per pound live and $12.99 a pound boiled.

“We are expecting, unfortunately, a later than normal crawfish season, but the duration will be decided by what producers are catching and what kind of weather conditions we have throughout the spring,” Todd Fontenot, an agent with the LSU AgCenter, said. “For example, if the catch remains small and we have dry conditions, producers will most likely drain ponds early and forego additional irrigation expenses.”

Basically, Fontenot said all decisions are based on economics.

“In my opinion crawfish is one of the few commodities where prices are determined by our local supply and demand dynamics,” he said.

Fontenot feels that last year’s drought and high temperatures are to blame for the current crawfish crop.

“The high temperatures only made the dry conditions more severe and more pronounced,” he said. “Crawfish burrow at the end of crawfish ponds basically at or near the water level as the irrigation water is drained. In order for crawfish to emerge in the fall, these burrows must be wet so the soil is wet and the crawfish can dig back upward and emerge.

“These upper levels of the burrows need good soaking rains to soften and we did not receive these kinds of rains until December in most areas.”

Fontenot said mild temperatures and sunshine are needed in order to have a good growing season for crawfish that have survived.

“There is really no one answer for what has happened this year to our crawfish population,” Fontenot said. “We experienced unprecedented conditions that are beyond our control.” 


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