Behind the scenes of the crawfish business, day two - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Behind the scenes of the crawfish business, day two

Once the crawfish are collected from the traps, the farming process becomes more complex. You might think the sacks are just loaded on trucks and sent on their way. Eventually, that does happen, but so much goes on before the crawfish even make it to stores.

Early season predictions from farmers seem to be coming true. Early in the 2012 crawfish season the numbers looked pretty good.

"We're catching about 14-15 sacks per day right now," said crawfish farmer Adrian Augustine.

That number is now around 100, still below the 130-140 usual average, but Augustine says sometimes that's just how mother nature works.

Rain plays an important role in the crawfish business. It can make or break each day's harvest, which in turn affects the entire crawfish season. But thankfully last year's drought isn't affecting this year's numbers at all. Augustine and seafood vendor Brad Soileau say rainwater is extremely important in the growth process of crawfish.

"Every time it rains it gives oxygen to the water," said Augustine. "We've got food for them so they will molten and grow. We just got to let them go through their process and it'll be a beautiful thing."

"The rainwater, the natural rainwater is a great thing," said Soileau.

The rain makes the daily catch process a little easier but it also makes them more plentiful, which in turn can make the business process take longer. Once the crawfish are brought in, they're graded. Most farmers have machines that make this process easier.

Augustine's grader washes the crawfish first, as they travel up a conveyer belt and then across the grader, which has several pipes spaced out differently to let small crawfish fall through first and the larger ones travel all the way to the end. After they're graded, some farmers purge them to thoroughly clean the crawfish before moving on. The crawfish are sacked immediately after grading and then weighed.

That's all in a day's work for the crawfish farmers. While some season's are more difficult than others, the 2012 season is going well, Augustine says, all thanks to the rain.

"Now we've had the rain the last couple of months," said Augustine. "It's really helped out a bunch. So the catch now, compared to years past is really good right now." 

Once the crawfish are purged, graded and weighed, they're even closer to making it to your table.

Tune into tomorrow to 7 News at 6 to see what happens next in the crawfish process.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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