Drought Will Impact Louisiana Crawfish Season – Here’s How
For a creature that lives in the hostile environment of Louisiana's swamps and marshes, the crawfish can certainly be a fragile creature. While the crawfish's tough exterior and menacing pinchers certainly make it an imposing creature to look at, the creatures are actually quite sensitive to even the most minute changes in their environment. So, when their environment has really been upended it doesn't bode well.
The graphic above illustrates just how badly Louisiana is being affected by the current drought. Most of the state has been in the worst of drought conditions since the middle of summer. And, while we were focusing on record high temperatures and the threat of wildfires during that time, we weren't that focused on how those conditions could affect our favorite cold weather into springtime treat, crawfish.
The ideal growing season for crawfish in Louisiana consists of a warm wet summer. But it can't be too wet. For crawfish, timing is everything. If the rains of August and September are heavy they can force the creatures out of their burrows too early. This usually leads to a downturn in production because many crawfish ponds suffer from low oxygen levels because of decaying plant material during that time of year. This makes it difficult for the crawfish to survive and grow.
The temperature plays a big part in the crawfish season in Louisiana too. Sure we want the weather to be cool but it can't be freezing cold. Temperatures at or below the freezing level for extended periods of time can curtail the growth of the crawfish. This leads to a less desirable product for markets and restaurants. Because everyone wants big meaty mudbugs if they're going to spend the money to get them.
We should also consider the other crop that many Louisiana farmers grow during the offseason for crawfish. That crop is rice. And while most, if not all of Louisiana's rice crop has been harvested there are still concerns regarding the drought and how it affected the rice crop. The leftover rice stalks in the ponds are where the crawfish find food during the winter months.
What is the Outlook for Louisiana's Crawfish Season?
Cautiously optimistic, might be a good way to describe how many producers are feeling at this stage of the game. The season can still be a good one if rainfall totals start to return to seasonal averages. It does look as if the temperatures will not be as big of a factor this year as they were last season.
Crawfish producers are still facing higher production costs in the form of fuel and labor so don't expect prices to be below average. In fact, the current thinking among those producers that we've heard from is this. The size and quality should be there but consumers will have to pay a little more for those crawfish that are of substantial and consistent size.
10 Best Cajun/Creole Seasonings
Gallery Credit: Jude Walker