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Crawfish crunch could lead to price surge for Texans

Crawfish with potatoes and corn in a takeout container.
Courtesy of Boil House via Facebook
The rice fields that are used to harvest crawfish didn't get an adequate amount of rainfall because of drought.

Crawfish season is in trouble. Early reports from crawfish farmers in Louisiana indicate this year's catch will be down significantly, causing an adverse effect on prices consumers pay in Texas.

Louisiana is the number one producer of crawfish in the nation, with about 250,000 acres of crawfish ponds and 150 million pounds of crawfish harvested annually. Early reports suggest the state could be down by as much as 100,000 acres this year.

Nikki Fitzgerald is a coastal and marine resource agent with Texas A&M.

"It could be a low year for crawfish," said Fitzgerald. "Louisiana naturally grows about 250,000 acres of crawfish a year and Texas only does about 20,000. Our [Texas] markets rely pretty heavily on Louisiana."

The rice fields that are used to harvest crawfish did not get an adequate amount of rainfall because of the drought. The triple-degree temperatures also created problems as crawfish burrowed deep into the ground to escape the heat, with many of them unable to emerge afterwards.

The outlook for Texas crawfish farmers is still up in the air. Most farmers don't set traps until the end of February, so it's unclear yet if the damage to the Louisiana crawfish industry is going to be mirrored in Texas. But early signs indicate similar problems will take place.

"A few of the farmers that have put out traps are saying are hardly catching anything. The drought has obviously affected some of our Texas farmers," said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald says the crawfish industry will rebound, and customers will eventually get their fix of mudbugs. But that probably won't happen until later this year. For now, customers who want crawfish from this year's catch can expect to pay higher prices.

"We just need some consistent weather," said Fitzgerald.

Copyright 2024 Houston Public Media News 88.7. To see more, visit Houston Public Media.

Robert Salinas
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