Drought could drive up crawfish prices around Houston

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by Gabe Gutierrez / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on May 5, 2011 at 6:44 PM

WINNIE, Texas – The drought conditions in southeast Texas are prompting crawfish farmers to warn of higher prices over the next few months.

"The crawfish are running probably at least 50 cents a pound higher than they normally do," said Shane Cheshon, the co-owner of Texas Crawdaddy’s, where live purged crawfish was selling at $2.45 a pound on Sunday.

He said crawfish prices typically drop slightly after Easter and Mother’s Day as demand falls. But this year, the drought conditions are threatening to keep them high.

To explain why, Cheshon pointed to his nearby crawfish field.

"Normally the water level would be way up here where my foot's at,” he said, pointing at the ground. “But just in the last two weeks, the water's already receded."

He added that the traps were having a tough time capturing the usual amount of crawfish so he’s had to import more from Louisiana. Those farmers in Lousiana are also having to work harder to pump water in their fields because of the dry conditions, he said.

"I don't think you're going to see crawfish prices any lower than they are right now for the rest of the year," Cheshon said.

But it’s too early to tell how quickly that might translate to higher restaurant prices.

At Mardi Gras Grill in the Houston Heights, prices have actually dropped slightly since Easter.

"I've talked to my fishermen and I don't think there's any problem for us right now that we can foresee, but I'm not sure as far as the future,” said Marty Tripp, the restaurant’s manager.

But the restaurant’s crawfish distributor, Vincent Florio of Critter Runners, said that he expected prices to rise in a month or two and that the crawfish would be smaller because of the harsh conditions.

Some customers don't seem too worried.

"We will not stop eating crawfish,” Louisiana native Erin Bell said as she finished up her crawfish lunch Sunday. “ We've eaten crawfish at some pretty expensive prices."
 

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