NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (KTRK) -- It's crawfish season, and you may already be digging into those mudbugs, but agriculture experts say the crawfish supply could feel the impact of upcoming cold weather.
According to LSU's Agricultural Center, the above-average temperatures seen in November and December helped Louisiana's crawfish season grow early and fast. Those favorable weather conditions led to many crawfish reaching market size in late December and early January.
But the center said that freezing conditions are expected across much of the crawfish-producing areas of Louisiana late this week that will likely impact the supply until warmer weather returns.
"When the water temperature is jumping between 60 and 70 degrees, that's optimum for crawfish growth," said Mark Shirley, an aquaculture agent for the LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant.
WDSU spoke to the owner of NOLA Crawfish King Seafood & Barbecue, Chris "Shaggy" Davis, who said he has seen the cold weather this January affecting supply. Davis said he's also seeing changes in the size of crawfish and the price of crawfish.
LSU's Agricultural Center is also monitoring a deadly white spot virus that is affecting the crawfish industry.
In a 2020 report, the AgCenter explained that extreme weather can have a costly impact.
For example, heavy summer rains can cause crawfish to emerge from their burrow too early, ultimately making it harmful to their survival.
And simply put, winter temperatures dropping below freezing can slow crawfish growth.
In 2018-19, the Louisiana crawfish season alone produced 151.8 million pounds of crawfish with an economic value of $209.5 million.