Crawfish catch and size increase after winter weather delayed harvest for a week
Winter weather temporarily froze crawfish harvesting and its market, but spring weather has started to melt away the effects as the catch and size increase.
The arctic air brought freezing temperatures, power outages and water-access issues across most of Louisiana. As a result, many of Acadiana’s ponds had a thin layer of ice on the surface.
At the mud line, where crawfish grow, the temperature dropped to about 35 degrees, causing the cold-blood crustaceans metabolism to slow dramatically, said Mark Shirley, LSU AgCenter aquaculture specialist.
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“The freeze didn’t kill the crawfish; it just delayed the harvest and delayed growth,” he said. “At the same time, it was so cold, people didn’t move didn’t go out to eat. During that whole week, there was almost no demand because people didn’t get out or wouldn’t get out.”
That week, which started on Feb. 15 and included Mardi Gras, the weather rendered the harvest and market virtually non-existent, he said.
But as the temperatures have started to warm up, the crawfish started moving again and the catch increased.
“Over next few days, as we get more spring-like weather, the catches will get better and we’ll have a better more consistent supply of crawfish for the market,” Shirley said.
In the 26 years Brant Lamm has been in the crawfish business, he’s never had to close during Lent. But the co-owner of Crawfish Time, which farms its own crawfish and has two restaurants on Moss Street and Ridge Road, said he had to close because of the freeze’s impact on the crawfish.
Usually, freezes come earlier in the season and before Lent. Lamm said it’s not something he’s used to happening so late in the year.
“It did stop the catch almost completely for several days,” he said. “But as soon as the water warmed up the catch picked up very quickly. Now we’re catching plenty and the size is pretty good.”
Ed Wilkerson Jr., the owner of Louisiana Crawfish Time, a restaurant on Verot School Road, said he had to close the restaurant for a few days to have enough crawfish for the weekend.
“Since then, we’ve had no problems. The quality and quantity (of crawfish) have come up quite a bit,” he said. “Now, hopefully, people will come out and eat crawfish.”
The 2021 crawfish season was expected to be close to normal despite set backs from 2020, which included hurricanes and low demand because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Contact Ashley White at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AshleyyDi.