Now’s the time to think about planting crawfish forage

mark shirley, crawfish research

LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant agent Mark Shirley checks a dipnet for young crawfish while a combine harvests a second crop of rice on a field at the South Farm of the AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station near Crowley — photos by Bruce Schultz, LSU AgCenter

If you are planning on planting rice for crawfish forage, the best time to plant is in late July or the first week of August, says Mark Shirley, Louisiana State University AgCenter crawfish aquaculture and coastal resources specialist.

Last summer, researchers conducted  a planting date trial to determine the optimal time to plant rice for crawfish. The objectives were to grow the rice so that the pond would have green rice in the fall and a persistent source of biomass through the season.

In the trials, the rice planted July 22, July 29 and Aug. 5 had green rice all through October, which translates into good water quality and optimal early growth for young crawfish. These dates also produced biomass that lasted longer through the winter to create the food web that feeds the crawfish.

Earlier plantings headed out too soon and the plants died back during October. Later plantings were affected by the early cold weather we had last November and had little biomass left in the winter.

So for those with permanent ponds and wanting to plant rice for crawfish forage, the week of July 13 looks like some dry weather and a good time to plow the field. The extended forecast calls for rain during the following week, making it a good time to plant.

Learn more in this short video from the LSU AgCenter.

The LSU AgCenter contributed this article.