By Patrick D. Bonin
It’s the third week of June here in south Louisiana, and the dog days of summer are already upon us. High temperatures hover in the mid-90s, with lows only dipping into the mid-70s.
It’s hot. Really hot!
And the crawfish crop is already feeling the adverse effects.
“The season is winding down to the end. We’re already picking up the traps in some of the fields that just aren’t producing anymore,” said Mark Frugé, co-owner of Frugé Aquafarms in Branch, La. “We’re trying to continue production as long as it’s profitable. I’d say we might have another couple of weeks to go.”
He estimated about 80 percent of the farm’s crawfish ponds are still in production, thanks in large part to the drenching rains we experienced in
April and May.
“The recent rain activity has helped out. It supplied the ponds with additional water that otherwise we’d have had to pump, and at this point in the season it’s just not profitable to maintain them by pumping,” Frugé said. “You won’t get your return back. So basically we just fish until there’s no more water, then we shut it down.”
Although still relatively plentiful, the crawfish being harvested now are smaller than they were earlier in the spring.
“The size has gone down simply because the food source (rice stubble) has almost been expended,” he said. “Crawfish production pr
etty much follows a bell curve, with March, April and May being the peak months. It tails off both ways from that peak, and that’s where we are right now.”
The good news for crawfish lovers is that it looks like we have a couple of good weeks remaining for this year’s harvest.
“Typically we try to make deliveries for the Fourth of July weekend,” he said. “This year we’re speculating about maybe going an extra week or so beyond that, but it’s really day by day at this point.”
Better news is that the process of stocking next year’s crawfish ponds was completed this week, so those mudbugs will be hunkering down beneath the rice fields next month to begin their months-long hibernation to escape the summer heat. But they’ll return next fall with their young, and the 2013-14 crawfish harvest will begin anew.
For crawfish lovers everywhere, that can’t come soon enough!