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A crawfish producer runs the traps in a field near Eunice. Crawfish producers hurt by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be able to receive compensation from a program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter)

USDA assistance available for crawfish farmers hurt by pandemic

From now until Sept. 11, crawfish farmers can apply for assistance from a U.S. Department of Agriculture program to compensate them for losses related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This program will help producers deal with economic problems caused by the low prices and the inability to move crawfish,” said LSU AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry. “This will help them close the gap between what revenue they were able to generate and what they would have expected to generate this year.”

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Survey shows crawfish income down, season shortened

Results from a survey of crawfish producers show that decreased demand for their product is resulting in lost income of about $500 an acre and a season that could end about 40 days sooner than usual in some cases.
“When you look at all those things, it’s a pretty impactful scenario for producers,” said LSU AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry, who compiled the survey results.
A total of 67 producers responded to the survey, representing more than 10% of the total estimated crawfish acres in the state, Guidry said.

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Sidney “Peanut” Michel, owner of D&B Seafood in Morgan City, rinses crawfish to prepare them for boiling Tuesday. Crawfish season is off to a slow start due to the freezing temperatures during the past few weeks, but industry officials expect crawfish to be more plentiful once the weather gets warmer. (The Daily Review/Zachary Fitzgerald)

Crawfish season off to slow start

A south Louisiana winter that has been colder than normal so far has caused a sluggish start to the 2018 crawfish season. But industry officials are optimistic that crawfish will be a lot more plentiful by March or April.
Mark Shirley, an aquaculture specialist with LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant, said several “cold snaps” since December have slowed crawfish growth and activity in ponds, which has significantly reduced the catch.
However, the cold weather has not killed crawfish.

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‘Little lobsters’ make big impact

Get the fixin’s ready, it’s just about time for farmers to begin flooding their ponds, and it won’t be long before they start pulling crawfish from them.
Pulling them from farm ponds is actually a relatively new idea, and I’m not sure whether the industry’s success comes from the fact that the crawfish has become the symbol of practically all things Cajun, or whether the crawfish became the Cajun symbol because of the success of the farms.

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Floodwaters can affect water quality in crawfish ponds

Ray McClain, LSU AgCenter aquaculture specialist, said deep floods should not be allowed to remain on crawfish ponds because the water will be low in oxygen.
“It’s not a bad idea to hold a real shallow flood,” McClain said.
He said only 3-4 inches of water will help allow decomposition of dead vegetation, but the water should be drained before the field is flooded for the crawfish season.
According to McClain, most areas should be better off than last year because the rainfall from Hurricane Harvey in most of Louisiana was less than last year’s August storm.

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