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Drought, cold weather could make for poor crawfish season

Image courtesy of the USDA

Last year’s drought continues to have a negative impact on different sectors, and unfortunately, the crawfish industry is no exception.

Crawfish lovers may be paying the highest prices in decades if they’re even able to find mudbugs in their area, according to Dennis Riecke of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.

“Supply and demand. The supply is being impacted by the drought that we had last year,” Riecke said. “With the limited amount, you’re going to have higher prices and of course the retailers will too.”

Riecke, who previously studied the best ways to farm crawfish in conjunction with rice at the Louisiana State University AgCenter, explained that the excessive heat and lack of rain impacted the crops during the growing months while the recent cold is impacting the harvest.

“When you take the water off the rice field and harvest the rice – and that happens in maybe September, August, late July – the crawfish burrow down to the water table, and they stay in their burrow until they sense that there’s water over them again,” Riecke explained.

“With the drought, the survival of the crawfish in the burrows has probably been poor and with the wild harvest usually peaking in March, that may be delayed this year due to colder water temperatures and there might be less crawfish coming out of that depending on what the water conditions are.”

While prices in Baton Rouge, La., are averaging $12.99 a pound – double that of this time last year – parts of Mississippi are seeing even higher prices. Kelly Ray, owner of T’Beaux’s Crawfish and Catering in Clinton, told the Clarion-Ledger that his prices are hovering around $15.99 a pound and that’s when he can find any crawfish.

According to the Crawfish App, which shows availability in your area, no businesses within 50 miles of Jackson are advertising live or boiled crawfish. On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, there are a handful of businesses featured on the app with boiled prices in line with Baton Rouge’s $12.99 per pound rate.

Even with the lack of supply, Reicke encourages people to still try to find a way to buy crawfish this season. He explained that farmers depend on consumers even more so in weak harvest seasons.

“It’s important because some of them are strictly crawfish farmers and some of them are rice and crawfish farmers but they depend on that income from year to year to pay their bills and have workers and to make a profit,” Reicke said.

Crawfish season usually lasts until the end of June.

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