Cold shouldn't affect crawfish harvest much

By By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

The recent cold spell is not expected to have a large effect on the area’s annual crawfish harvest.

Burt Tietje, owner of Tallgrass Farm about a mile north of Roanoke, said the freezing temperatures merely slowed activity

for a little while.

“Freezes don’t generally hurt the

crawfish at all, but generally slow down their growth,” Tietje said.

“Everything in the

pond depends on how much heat there is in the pond. The more there

is, the more the food grows, the more active the crawfish

are. When we get times like this, everything stops moving,

everything stops feeding. It doesn’t hurt us; it just puts us back.

We depend on being able to have a regular harvest of crawfish. If

we lose a week like this, it is a week we don’t get to make

up. It hurts us that way, but does not hurt the crawfish

themselves.”

Tietje said activity at the farm was slow before the cold weather arrived.

“I often collect about this time, but

this year I flooded the pond a little later,” he said. “Therefore, I was

not looking

to start crawfishing until about Jan. 15. I will have to go out

there and see what my test traps tell me. At this point, it

is too cold to go out and check them. It is a minor setback, we

deal with cold weather every winter. The fact that this was

colder than usual does not make any major difference. It is not

going to damage the crawfish.”

Tietje said the season typically picks up in February.

“Our six-month season is like a bell curve,” he said. “You catch a few in January. February starts a climb, and March and

April are our peak times. In May it drops off precipitously, and in June it peters out.”

Tietje said early signs point to a normal harvest.

“We normally catch 30,000-50,000 pounds

of crawfish each year,” he said. “All indications are we are going to

have a good

pond and reach that. They have reproduced and are growing. We have

several generations of crawfish in the pond, which is what

you want to see. The first thing you are going to catch are last

year’s stock crawfish, then you are going to have the first

wave of recruits. All of the crawfish don’t come up at one time,

they come up in waves. You have a continual new generation

of crawfish coming along. At this point, you want to go in there,

do your test traps and find a few great big crawfish and

successive generations below that. I should be able to do those

tests by the end of the week when the warm weather hits.”