Before you know it

August 10, 2011

The season will be back in full swing for crawfish production. Many are out harvesting rice and making decisions about the upcoming season. One hopes that this season will go well and the season will not have many bumps along the road. Of course everyone’s situation is different. However, I think we can all agree that this Summer has proven to be a very dry one and there is some concern that if this continues that planning to flood in October or November will be decided on the weather. We will have to wait and see what happens to address those concerns right now. It is good that those producers who are wanting to flood early are considering doing so, but it has to be economically feasible when the time comes to make that decision. A lot can change in  two months, so I urge those of you with concerns to just wait and we can cross that bridge when the time comes. I will remain optimistic yet cautious until that time comes. I want to thank those of you who have called and asked me to address the drought situation, but I don’t think the crawfish industry has need for heavy concern at this time.

Richard

Forage Crop planning

July 30, 2011

By now, most if not all producers have made their decisions on what forage crop they will be using this upcoming season. The most popular (and most beneficial) is the use of rice as a forage crop.

Rice is very hardy in the cold weather and will break down slowly throughout the season, optimizing the use as a forage crop this season. Alternatives would be sorgham sudangrass, which breaks down slowly as well, but does not always prove to be the best choice and voluntary forage (aquatic weeds), which is not really a forage crop, but is the cheapest route to go. When deciding what forage crop to use, it seems to be a decision made by time. More calls seem to come from what can I do if I wait too late before planting a forage crop than anything else during this time of year. There will also be some calls later on the alternative use of forage crops if we get storms or any other natural problems that delays the planting of a forage crop.

The optimal planting time for rice is August (the first part) and sorgham-sudangrass the end of August. Of course, every situation seems to be different, but these are the optimal planning times for most.

Planning ahead

July 20, 2011

I am sure everyone is planning ahead for this upcoming season. Many questions I have gotten these past two weeks have been related to my opinion of the season. Of course, we really have no way to know exactly what the year will bring, but we hope for a great season that starts off with no detrimental weather.  If no major events (drought, flood, hurricane) damage or hinder the start of the season, perhaps the season will go as we all hope. Although we can never be certain, maintaining water quality will be key to those who are planning to start catching earlier this year than last.

This Summer seems to be going by very quickly and before we know it, October will be here. I appreciate all of you for working hard each day to promote the Louisiana crawfish industry.

 

Best,

Richard

Many questions this time of year seem to be about reworking levees. There are many considerations that need to be made prior to making a decision to work on levees. The reason this can become a problem is because reworking levees will often compact dirt where crawfish have burrowed and will prevent them from being able to emerge later. If you did already stock last month (although this should something rarely done on a regular pond operation), reworking levees will most likely undo all of that hard work.

If: the pond was overpopulated last year you may want to consider reworking at this time. However, generally it may be a good idea to only do minor work or rework one main levee per season. Another would be if you have many baffle levees available where the population may have burrowed would allow for some levee work. However, if crawfish were large at the end of the season but few in number, reworking levees now could greatly reduce the population in the pond. The key idea is to remember that anything you do now could cause problems down the road with the population and harvest. If crawfish are killed now, it may be very difficult to have an initial catch at the beginning of the season. If you want to rework levees now, you may want to consider rebuilding one or two major levees and not do a complete rework.

Stocking Questions

May 30, 2011

Many producers are stocking or considering stocking at this point.

Be sure to check out the newsletter at:

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/crops_livestock/aquaculture/crawfish/Newsletters/Crawfish-News-May-2011-Vol-4-No-3-.htm#1

The newsletter provides information on forage crops as well as recommendations for stocking as we make preparations and plans for the next season.

I have not seen many harvesting, but this warm (or rather hot) weather can be detrimental to crawfish. If ponds are still flooded, make sure to monitor water quality closely because at these temperatures, it does not take long or water to lose quality. The best times to check oxygen levels is in the morning (also this is the best time to aerate).

It seems that the season will soon be coming to an end for some. I am hoping that everyone had a successful year and were able to meet all goals set. When preparing for next season, now is a great time to think about what you would like to do differently or what issues you plan to address for the upcoming season. Of course, we can never predict many things in this business; but that unpredictability makes for an interesting commodity. As a reflection of this last season, you may want to ask yourself a few questions:

1. Was the pond overpopulated?

2. Should I rework levees?

 3. Was my trapping schedule optimal for this years harvest?

4. Did I manage my forage crop in the best way possible?

5. Should I restock?

6. What would I like to see different next year?

These decisions now will play a part in how next year will perform for you. The best time to start thinking about a course of action is sooner rather than later.

For those of you who will continue catching, make sure to monitor water quality in the ponds to help the crawfish stay healthy enough to produce a crop for next year. As the temperatures get warmer, the ponds have a potential to lose water quality much more quickly. If the crawfish population dies off now, the early catch for flood up next season will be negatively impacted.

I hope everyone has a great week.

Richard

The above question has been asked many times. The idea behind this is that sometimes a neighboring field may be producing larger crawfish than a current one. Therefore, we want to add large crawfish from the neighboring field to increase genetic diversity. However, this is not necessarily going to change the productivity of the pond in terms of yield and size. As stated in many blogs, the size is mainly a factor related to how many crawfish are in the pond. The more that are in the pond, the smaller they could be if overcrowding is a problem. Reworking levees may be an option to reduce populations in that pond. However, if you are considering doing levee work, many of the crawfish are burrowed in those levees with their offspring. So, if all of the levees are worked, the population can be severly impacted. A better approach would be to work a few levees at a time; or to work all levees and restock afterword, but this would mean also putting a shallow flood on to give them a chance.

When getting stock, the location will not make a difference in terms of productivity as much as monitoring the density in the ponds. If you have overcrowding, the crawfish crop will unfortunately tend to be stunted. Also, it is better to sell everything you catch instead of throwing the females back in the pond. This has not proven to help with production much and can actually contribute to future overcrowding.

Have a great week everyone

Richard

Catch Seems to be UP

March 28, 2011

It seems everyone I have spoken to this week and last has said the catch is up. Hopefully this trend stays this way for everyone.

When you are out catching, don’t worry about throwing back those you feel or too small or the females. Chances are you won’t catch the same crawfish when they are larger anyway. It is better to go ahead and sell what you can catch now instead of waiting. Also, this will help prevent the overpopulation problem that can wreak havoc on the size of all of the crawfish in the pond. The number one factor that affects the size of the crawfish is density. Generally, the more you have in there, the smaller they will tend to be.

Until next time,

Richard

Here is a picture of the algae mentioned in the last post.

Algae problems??

March 9, 2011

Many of you may be experiencing that slimy algae coming up in sheets from the bottom of the pond. No need to worry about spending money to get rid of this annoyance. This is actually a winter algae that will go away on its own in due time. It starts at the bottom of the pond and when the weather warms up, it floats to the surface and then turns brown and dies. There is one primary concern. This is the massive amount of decaying matter that can take away oxygen in the pond (so make sure to monitor those oxygen levels). Otherwise, this is one problem that will fix itself.
On a side note, those ponds with high activity (high populations) will not have this algae problem.
I hope everyone had a great mardi gras holiday.

Best-
Richard

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