Friday, April 29, 2016

Growing Crawdads

As we drove through Louisiana we noticed many manmade ponds along the sides of the Interstate.


Mr. Dreamy thought they might be for growing rice. But, I noticed things that looked like wire cages in lines along the perimeter, or in rows, in the ponds. (If you zoom in on the picture above you can see what I am talking about.) I thought maybe they were feeding crawdads (AKA crayfish, crawfish, mud puppies, freshwater lobsters.)

We were both right! I love it when that happens!

Well, we were both kinda right. It turns out that farmers grow both 'crops' together. I found a brief summary after consulting Mr. Know-it-all (Google) at CajunCrawfish.com.

 THE SHORT VERSION:

1 Grow a rice crop in water from March to July.
2 Seed crawfish in the rice field in June.
3 Drain water and harvest the rice in late July/August.
4 Re-flood the old rice field and it becomes a crawfish pond in September/October.
5 Harvest the crawfish from November to July.
6 Drain, plow, and level the field to repeat the process in July to March.

What I was seeing had food for crawfish, but it is more commonly referred to as "bait"! I was seeing traps for the little critters. Lots of them! In lots of ponds fields. We also saw some fields with rice beginning to grow.

I found this picture showing a crawdad farmer (fisherman? crawdadman?) emptying an orange-topped trap, like those I saw in the fields along the road. Other traps can be seen in the background of the picture.

Picture from http://www.myneworleans.com/Louisiana-Life/May-June-2012/How-to-Grow-Crawfish/
What I found most interesting, which is explained in the longer version of "How We Grow Crawfish",  is that the crawfish burrow into the mud in the summer. That is when the the fields are drained and the rice is harvested. The crawfish stay there until late summer rains 'activate' the crawfish to reproduce. As the fields fill with water, the crawfish emerge with their young. However, during drought, the crawfish will not 'activate'. Even if the fields are flooded, nothing happens. The crawfish react to barometric pressure, not just water. Fascinating!









   

4 comments:

  1. What a fun thing to know - thanks for sharing it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are most welcome. Now, if you drive around Louisiana, you can amaze your friends by telling them what goes on in those watery ponds next to the roads!

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