Crawfish Production


The Atchafalaya Swamp ... perfect breeding grounds for crawfishThe Atchafalaya Swamp in Louisiana ... perfect breeding grounds for crawfish (Photograph by the author)

Crawfish are found in all the southern U.S. states in warm waters during warm weather seasons.

Small harvests of farmed crawfish for human consumption occur in states such as Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and the Carolinas.

But Louisiana is by far the largest producer of crawfish in the United States.

Louisiana Crawfish Industry

Official nationwide comparisons are not available, but industry experts estimate that Louisiana usually accounts for 90%-95% of the total U.S. production from year to year, either from wild waters of the state, or on farms.

Commercial sales of crawfish in Louisiana date back to the late 1800s, and today's crawfish industry includes millions of pounds harvested from farms and natural waterways in the Bayou State.

A typical crawfish farm in South Louisiana
A typical crawfish farm in South Louisiana
CRAWFISH IN THE NEWS

Louisiana crawfish season starts slow, but demand still high
(AP News - 03/11/2019)

Crawfish Peeling, Packaging Workshop for industry
(LSU Ag Center - 02/07/2019)

Crawfish Season Has Begun
(LSU Ag Center - 12/19/2018)

The harvesting of wild crawfish from natural habitats such as bayous, swamps and marshes provides a significant number of jobs for Louisiana residents. The Atchafalaya Basin is world famous for its crawfish production.

More than 800 commercial fishermen who harvest crawfish from wetlands, most in the Atchafalaya Basin, contribute to those totals. The industry employs about 7,000 people directly or indirectly and injects $300 million into the state's economy each year, according to the Louisiana Crawfish Promotion and Research Board.

Crawfish Farms

Crawfish traps on a commercial crawfish pond in Louisiana
Crawfish traps on a commercial crawfish pond in Louisiana

Crawfish farming is a major industry in Louisiana, with Louisiana commercial crawfish farmers providing 85% of domestically produced crawfish to Louisiana markets and across the nation. The state's annual yield is more than 100 million pounds of crawfish.

Louisiana’s crawfish farming industry has grown to include more than 1,200 farms occupying more than 120,000 acres. Crawfish ponds have no standard size, but most are between 10 and 40 acres, and most producers manage 150 or fewer acres.

Some farmers use the crawfish ponds for growing rice at other times of the year.

Crawfish Farming Video

"Crawfish Farming" with Mike Prevost in Branch, Louisiana. The day in the life of a crawfish farmer. (YouTube Video)

Louisiana Crawfish Production

Louisiana is the largest domestic producer of crawfish, a delicacy whose peak season runs from Mardi Gras to Easter.

About 1,600 Louisiana farmers produce 130-150 million pounds of crawfish per year with a combined value to producers of over $172 million, LSU AgCenter figures show..

A sack of fresh, live Louisiana crawfish ... NOT imported!A sack of fresh, live Louisiana crawfish ... NOT imported! (Photograph by the author)

Foreign Imported Crawfish

There is stiff competition from "foreign" importers, but we steadfastly do not purchase imported crawfish.

Crawfish are often dumped on American markets at significantly lower prices, and always come with the concern that they were raised under unsanitary conditions. We do not take the risks that come with cooking imported crawfish. Plus, we strongly believe in supporting our local crawfish industry and crawfish fishermen.

We recommended buyers always read the label carefully and see where the crawfish are from ... check the "Country of Origin". If they are not a product of the USA, we do not buy!!

Foreign crawfish can sometimes be found in restaurants, so beware. To aid consumers, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture has developed a promotional campaign called “Ask Before You Eat.”

Always insist on crawfish harvested in the USA ... be alert for foreign imports
Always insist on crawfish harvested in the USA ... be alert for foreign imports (Photograph by the author)

Crawfish Farm Tours

Many people in Louisiana, and from across the country, have not had the experience of touring a working crawfish farm.

The Jefferson Davis Parish Tourist Commission offers field trips and group tours for those interested in how the crawfish industry works. The tours are popular with tourists, area residents and student and school groups.

The crawfish tour begins with a visit to the Tietje Crawfish Farm, a 65-acre pond near Roanoke, where the crawfish’s habitat and harvesting process are showcased.

Participants will stand on a dock, over a pond, while Burt Tietje describes the process. Viewers will also hear about the biology of the species such as dietary information, pond ecology, and harvesting equipment.

After visitors finish their lesson in harvesting crawfish, a trip to the I-10 Crawfish Cooperative begins the explanation of the marketing sector. The I-10 Cooperative will demonstrate the cleaning, grading, and distribution process. Visitors will gain an appreciation of the labor required to supply crawfish for those popular boils and for delicious recipes.

Tours also include a visit to Gator Chateau to learn more about, and see first hand, live alligators and their habitats.

Scenes at the Crawfish Tour (photos courtesy of Jeff Davis Parish)
Tietje Crawfish Farm tour in Jefferson Davis Parish in South Louisiana Tietje Crawfish Farm tour in Jefferson Davis Parish in South Louisiana

 

Tours are seasonal, often March to May. For more information, schedules and pricing on the crawfish tours, visit www.JeffDavis.org

Reservations are required. Call the Jeff Davis Parish Tourism Office to book a tour at 337.821.5521. Tours are available for groups of 10 or more. Call the office to see if a scheduled group is going on your date, as you may be able to join an existing group tour.

Crawfish Farm Tour in Louisiana (YouTube Video from Jeff Davis Parish Tourism Commission)

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