Mid-January in most of America is a tundra without much excitement to offer, but this is New Orleans. Here, mid-January marks the beginning of hard-shelled happiness. During a regular year, crawfish season is the best excuse for throwing a big social gathering. Although 2021 is not a regular year yet, that doesn't mean crawfish are off the table for you and your pandemic pod. In fact, the crop this year is looking better than last year.
We spoke with the folks at Louisiana Crawfish Co., a family-owned and -operated farm, about how this season looked from an expert's perspective. "I think the season's going to be better, the quality is going to be better, and the price will go down," said one of their representatives.
At Louisiana Crawfish Co. crawfish come in four grade sizes: jumbo, select, field run, and bait size. A shrimpy crawdad can still be great for bait, but most people want the big guys for their boil. That's where the weather comes in. Agriculture continues to be ruled by forces outside of our control. Knowing this, crawfish farmers account for low temps, anticipating that the cold weather will kill off some of the young. In a mild winter like last year, hedging your bets incorrectly means smaller sizes. On the surface, more crawfish surviving may seem like a good thing, but in the ponds, overpopulation leads to food scarcity. When more young survive, there's more competition for the food crop.
This year, the farmers' estimates and the weather were in sync. There was a lot of rice out in the fields for crawfish to eat, so they reached larger sizes. For Louisiana Crawfish Co., Monday morning is when big buyers in the state call and prices are set. This week, the prices are running on the high side, with fishermen seeing $4 per pound. Crawfish season hits a crescendo after Mardi Gras. After Fat Tuesday, prices drop down the lowest because everyone's catching—from the pond-raised to the wild, production is up. Demand goes up for Lent as well, but the experts tell us that March through May is the best time to fill up at a low price. That is, if your crawfish craving can hold out that long.
If you're like us and now find yourself fascinated by crawfish farming, you can watch the Louisiana Crawfish Co. team at work on their website. There, you'll find videos of them purging & grading, preparing the live crawfish for a flight on a Southwest plane, and an episode in which their business was featured on the Discovery Channel show "How We Do It." Stick around to shop their online store for other products, such as famous Natchitoches meat pies, spices galore, and whole skinned alligator by the pound.
For more information, to go lacrawfish.com
Photo by Sidney Pearce on Unsplash