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Winter weather freezes crawfish production

Farmers are waiting for sunny days to resume harvesting.
Posted at 5:24 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 20:10:21-05

CROWLEY, La. — Although Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and Catholic and Christian people in Acadiana would normally turn to crawfish to avoid eating red meat, the recent cold weather is getting in the way.

A farmer in Crowley hasn’t been out on the ponds since Feb. 12. Crawfish farmers are now waiting and hoping for warmer days to resume production.

“Right now, we’re completely shut down,” said Alan Lawson, crawfish farmer. “I’ve never seen anything shut down like this ever.”

He says his family has been in the crawfish business since the 1980s.

Not only are the crawfish not moving due to the cold waters, but the muddy and slippery conditions also aren’t safe for farmers.

“You can’t send somebody out in this weather,” said Lawson. “It’s dangerous in those boats, it’s slippery, it’s icy, it’s cold. And then you’re not going to catch anything when the water’s this cold. They’re just not going to move, you’re not going to catch anything.”

Plus, because this business relies so heavily on the weather, right now, it's just a matter of playing a waiting game with nature.

“They’re probably buried in the mud, and we probably won’t have any amount of crawfish for a week or two, until the water warms back up,” said Lawson. “We have to get some good warm days and some sunshine, to get back to some production.”

However, losing one week at the highest point of production will heavily impact the rest of the season.

“Just because we’ve lost a week here at the peak part of the season doesn’t mean at the end,” he said. “When the weather gets hot, the crawfish will bury and the season's over. If you lose a week, you lost it.”

He tells KATC if the days ahead are sunny, this production pause might last about a week – but if conditions keep like this, with overcast days and cold nights, the pause could be longer. Still, he encourages people to buy tail meat and cook an etouffee, this will at least keep the crawfish supply chain moving.
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