top of page

Why is Crawfish So Expensive Right now?

REPORT BY Mark Shirley

LSU Crawfish And Agriculture Department

...Here are a few more thoughts and observations based on what I’ve seen to date (early January).

The drought and heat during the summer and fall caused very high mortality of the carryover crawfish and brood stock. Those are the crawfish that the farmers should be catching in December, January, and February. I don’t see the catch picking anytime soon, especially considering the freezing temperatures expected thru January. Some farmers still have not put out traps mainly because test traps show no sign of crawfish.

I’ve dip netted in quite a few ponds and have found very few juvenile crawfish. The ones I do see were likely released from their mother’s tail since the big rain event the region had on December 1, 2023. Given the cold water temperature in January, their growth will be slow and not reach harvest size until late March or April. But even when these crawfish are big enough to catch, there is not a large population of them. The catch may pick up for a short while in April and May but will not be sustainable for the entire spring. The spring crop will be a fraction of what is normally caught.

In addition to the extremely short supply of crawfish, farmers are also seeing their production costs significantly increase. Pumping costs for flooding and maintaining a flood have tripled and, in some cases, quadrupled. Combined with the rise in labor cost, bait, and supplies, this will be a very expensive crop to produce.

Even with record high prices, I’m afraid many farmers will not cover their production costs of pumping, labor, bait, fuel and indirect costs for this season.

As mentioned in the LSU Drought Impact Report that came out right after Thanksgiving, there were over 45,000 acres that could not flood up due to a lack of water or canal water being too salty. Another 45,000+ acres, though flooded, will not produce any crawfish. The remaining balance will see a significant reduction in total catch. These were the predictions in November. From what I’ve seen since then, the situation is even worse now.

I realize I am painting a pretty dismal picture of the 2024 crawfish crop. But this is what I’m seeing.

Another issue is that farmers will have to stock their fields in May and June to prepare for next year. I am concerned that brood stock will be hard to come by and will be expensive. It will probably result in less acres being harvested in the 2025 season.


bottom of page