by Kari Beal
Crawfish season delayed, but critter fans don’t fret just yet
The cold weather is taking its toll on a Louisiana delicacy. Farmers tell us crawfish are hiding from the cold, and that means less on our plates. The big question now: when will the mudbugs be back? Turns out Mother Nature is the deciding factor.
“I have never seen it this bad,” says Stephen Minvielle, the Director of the Louisiana Crawfish Research and Promotion Board and Louisiana Crawfish Farmers Association. “In the past years, you get one or two cold days, but not extended weeks on and on like this.”
Minvielle picked up his traps this morning and had five crawfish at most in a trap. On a 70 degree day, he’ll see about 50. He said a combination of freezing rain and low temperatures are putting a halt on this season’s harvest.
“When it sleets like this it’s like taking warm water in a glass and pouring cold water into it. It’s going to change the temperature a bit or quite a bit,” said Minvielle.
He said research shows sleet causes water temperatures to drop 50 percent faster than cold air flowing over the water. This means the juicy, red critters we all love stay deep underground, hiding for the weather.
“They slow down dramatically,” said Minvielle. “We can bait them and sing to them, but they’re not going to get in the traps.”
He said the cold weather is also a concern for crawfish babies who are trying to grow. Usually it takes 90 days for a baby crawfish to grow to medium size, but in the cold it can take twice as long.
However, there is still hope. Minvielle said it’s been a good rain season. If temperatures warm up by the start of peak crawfish season, which is usually the end of February, our anxious fingers and hungry mouths can still dig into a steamy Cajun feast.