Crawfish in the fall?

By Crystal Price - bio | email

ROANOKE, LA (KPLC) - Crawfish has always been a spring Louisiana favorite, but an alternative crawfish species native to Louisiana could place the seafood favorite on the market year round.

Greg Lutz of the LSU AgCenter is performing research on a species they are referring to as "shrimp-crawfish" found in the Atchafalaya basin and other waterways throughout Louisiana.

"These animals would be ready to harvest in the autumn months starting in August through December, "said Lutz.

Lutz is working to determine the best stocking density the "shrimp-crawfish" can grow in before putting it on the market.

"The idea behind this research is just to give our farmers in the crawfish industry a little more flexibility in how they might want to manage their rotation with other crops," said Lutz.

Crawfish farmer Burt Tietje of Roanoke said this new alternative crop would be an incredible advantage that would allow harvesters to continue their crop year round.

However, Tietje said he has a few concerns with whether or not the additional crop would overcrowd the pond.

"If the red swamp crawfish eat all the food, what's going to be left of our new variety of shrimp crawfish?" said Tietje.

Tietje said another concern is compatibility between the red swamp crawfish and the shrimp crawfish.

"We don't know if those two species would eat one another or not," said Tietje.

Farmers in the area are also concerned with whether or not the new crawfish season would interfere with rice season.

"Ninety-five percent of the crawfish that's produced in Jeff Davis Parish is produced by rice farmers," said Tietje. "It would be a challenge to do this second type of crawfish because we're going to be in the middle of this rice harvest season while trying to propagate and grow crawfish."

While it might be a challenge, Tietje does feel it's something that would be great for the crawfish industry.

"It would give us cash flow for maybe 9 months out of the year instead of only 5 months out of the year," said Tietje. "I'm sure the consumers would love it too."

Researchers at the LSU AgCenter have been working on this study for a almost a year now.

The specialists are currently studying a group of almost 3,000 of the "shrimp-crawfish."

Copyright 2010 KPLC. All rights reserved.