Abundant, Affordable Crawfish Crop Predicted for 2012

CRAWFISH pouring out of a sack
By Patrick D. Bonin BRANCH, LA.
Ideal growing conditions and a mild, wet winter thus far have set the stage for what is shaping up to be a bumper crawfish crop in south Louisiana.

“For 2012, everything I’m seeing right now indicates we’re lined up for a high production year,” said Mark Fruge’, co-owner of Fruge’ AquaFarms in Branch, located about 15 miles from Lafayette.“With these mild temperatures, the crawfish are ahead of schedule on their rate of growth and production levels because they’ve been so active. The industry as a whole is probably producing double where we’d normally be right now.” Above-average temperatures and plentiful rainfall have the tasty crustaceans believing that spring has already sprung, and crawfish traps throughout Cajun Country are bursting with the hungry mudbugs.

“The temperatures that we’ve been experiencing are like March temperatures, so the crawfish in the field are reacting as though it’s March,” Fruge’ said. “Industry-wide, the people I’ve spoken with are all having similar outcomes. Everyone is doing well production-wise, and we should see strong poundage-per-acre production numbers.”

That means good news for consumers, who could see reduced prices compared to recent years when below-average rainfall negatively affected production.

“It should be a great year with abundant and affordable crawfish,” said Mike Fruge’, Mark’s older brother and fellow co-owner of Fruge AquaFarms. “I’m predicting a very high volume season. The quality right now couldn’t be better, and it’s only going to improve as we head into the spring.”

Volume is so strong right now Mike said the farm actually stopped harvesting for one day last week. “That’s the first time in about five years we’ve had to stop production to let the market catch up,” he said. “At this time of the year, I don’t think that’s ever happened before.”

Typically, depending upon weather, the harvest will continue through late June or the first week of July. As the season progresses, Mike predicts crawfish will be more affordable than in recent years.

“Right now, the price at the wholesale level is about 30% less than it was at this time last year,” he said. “That transfers all the way down the line, so consumers should see lower prices as well.”

Over the past 29 years, the Fruge’ brothers have seen their original 20-acre crawfish pond expand into a working 2,400-acre farm which supplies a full-service seafood company covering major markets in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

For more information on Fruge’ AquaFarms or the 2012 Louisiana crawfish season, contact Courtney Fruge’ 337.334.9620