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Louisiana Mud Bugs Head To Mississippi
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Crawfish are showing up in restaurants and stores in large numbers and at falling prices as crawfish season is in full swing.
Crawfish season extends from November through May, but peaks in April. Prices currently in South Mississippi range from about $1.19 to $1.49 a pound live, and $2.09 to $2.19 a pound boiled. Prices are expected to drop at least 20 cents a pound next week as more crawfish flood the markets.
Dr. Ben Posadas, marine economist at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi, said Mississippi has no commercial crawfish producers, but some people catch for themselves and sell privately.
"Most of the nation's crawfish production occurs in Louisiana," Posadas said. "But since 1992, a lot of crawfish has been imported into the United States, mainly from China."
In 1997, Louisiana produced most of the nation's 70 million pounds of crawfish valued at nearly $40 million. Most were cultured, but nearly 23 million pounds were caught live. Louisiana's Atchafalaya Basin between Baton Rouge and Lafayette produces most of the wild crawfish. In Mississippi, hobbyist harvest many crawfish from the Pearl River Basin.
Tom Rexroad, owner of Claw Daddy's Crawfish in Gulfport, said he hopes to sell between 750,000 and 800,000 pounds of crawfish this year. Rexroad has been buying all his crawfish from Louisiana for the last 12 years.
"I do think this will be one of our better years," Rexroad said. "So far, we are getting more crawfish than we did last year."
Rexroad's prices are down 10 cents from last week. He expects his prices to drop another 30 cents by the last full week of March as more crawfish are caught in Louisiana.
"When there's plenty of crawfish, the price has to go down," Rexroad said. "Supply and demand will always make a difference in what we're going to sell crawfish for and what we can buy them for."
The river crawfish in the Achafalaya Basin have yet to be caught in large numbers, and when that happens, Rexroad said he expects prices to drop significantly. Not only are these crawfish abundant, they command higher prices.
"Basin crawfish are bigger and some people say they taste better," Rexroad said. "They're a consistent size, unlike pond crawfish where you get some large ones, but there is a lot of size difference."
Rexroad is selling live basin crawfish for $1.59 a pound, but expects the price to drop to 79 to 89 cents a pound once the supply increases. He said cultured crawfish will likely fall to about $1.39 a pound boiled, and live to not less than 49 cents a pound.