CROWLEY – The crawfish season should soon hit its peak after a slow start this year, crawfish farmers are saying.
The reason for the delay of a few weeks was because of a combination of cold weather and a lack of rain until late last year. Luckily for crawfish consumers, things are picking up.
“Everything is a little off this year, and it’s time for things to change,” said the Owner of Hawk’s, a restaurant near Crowley. Hawk’s is only open during crawfish season, and most of it’s revenue stems from boiled crawfish. David Savoy, president of the Louisiana Crawfish Farmer’s Association, added that we would not see much real volume in crawfish production until next month. His crawfish production, he says, is about 55% of what it was at this time last year.
Another reason for low crawfish production is that many farmers are instead using their crawfish fields to produce rice and soybean crops, which will yield more funds this year than crawfish crops. Together with the fact that Lent, a time where Catholics consume less meat and turn to seafood, many restaurants are struggling to meet the demands of keeping enough peeled tail meat, which they use for such dishes as etouffee and gumbo. Right now, there is no peeled meat left on the market, or very little,” Savoy said. While restaurant owners aren’t struggling, they have definitely paid, according to Johnny Hebert, owner of Crawfish Town USA in Breaux Bridge.
Prices are currently $12 a pound for peeled tail meat, and the price for boiled crawfish is $3 to $6 a pound. These prices are projected to decrease as crawfish become more plentiful within the next couple of months. Predictions are that tail meat will decrease by $4 a pound to $8, and boiled crawfish should also decrease in price. In the past, prices have dropped up to a dollar a pound from the beginning of the season in November through the end in April. This price drop usually takes effect when crawfish farmers begin setting their traps in the Atchafalaya Basin, for what is referred to as a “wild harvest.”
The “wild harvesting” in the Basin largely depends on the amount of water flowing through the Basin further North of the Mississippi in the Ohio Valley.
Crawfish farmers and seafood restaurants remain optimistic in spite of the fact that they got off to a slow start this year. Hopefully for their benefit and for all the crawfish lovers our there, this crawfish season will improve by leaps and bounds.