March 11, 2014 10:22:55 AM
William Browning - [email protected]
In three decades of selling crawfish, Curt Crissey has never seen prices this high.
In years past the owner of Brewski's in Starkville has sold the crustaceans for roughly $3.49 per pound. Right now, the retail cost is $5.79. Just a few weeks ago it was $6.99.
Crissey is not alone. Businesses selling crawfish across the Golden Triangle have prices higher than usual. Some have made the decision to wait for prices to dip before putting them on the menu.
Louisiana restaurants usually charge $3 to $4 for a pound of crawfish. This year, the market price in Louisiana is approaching $8 per pound, according to the Gulf Seafood Institute.
You can lay the blame on the long, cold winter.
The lower the temperature, the closer to the bottom of ponds and streams crawfish stay. That means they are smaller than usual for this time of year and they're not taking the bait in traps.
Crissey has always bought his crawfish from a Louisiana supplier. That state produced 91 million pounds of wild and farmed crawfish last year -- far more than any other state.
Stephen Minvielle, director of the Louisiana Crawfish Research and Promotion Board and the Louisiana Crawfish Farmer's Association, said the prices of crawfish are as high as he has seen in 14 years.
"These are the worst numbers for prices and yields that I've ever seen and I keep very good records," Minvielle said.
The season when Southerners gather around a table and peel back hundreds of crawfish shells typically runs from mid-February through June. Usually, by this time of year, Crissey has sold a 1,000-pound-plus order to a local company or organization for a large crawfish boil. Not this year, though. He has the crawfish to fill an order that size but has encouraged people to wait until prices dip.
If temperatures continue to rise, crawfish yields will increase and prices will lower in coming weeks, Crissey said.
Suzy Huckaby, whose husband is co-owner of Huck's Place in Columbus, agrees.
The downtown restaurant on 5th Street is typically selling crawfish this time of year. But the restaurant also buys its crawfish from a Louisiana supplier and is waiting until prices go down and crawfish get bigger to begin offering them. That will benefit everyone, Huckaby said.
"We hope to start them next week," Huckaby said.
The Associates Press contributed to this report.
William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.