MORGANZA, LA (WAFB) - Several feet down in the muck and mud, underneath the ponds of the Four Oaks Farm, you'll find crawfish.
On the Frey farm, in crawfish jargon, they flood 1,000 acres of crawfish, but little did the Frey family farmers know that the August flood would be a springboard for their season. "I've never seen them that big. Two weighed a half a pound, one was a quarter of a pound, that's pretty big," said Matt Frey with Four Oaks Farm.
Commissioner Mike Strain with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry said normally, 225,000 crawfish acres in Louisiana and flooding don't mix. "We were very concerned because of a number of things: one, when you have excess water, it literally washes the crawfish out of the ponds," said Strain.
That was the case for the Freys, who have been farming crawfish since 2000. They lost a few crawfish acres, but luckily, they split the use of their land, half of the time for rice and the other half for crawfish. Frey said the fields must be dry for the machines to get the rice out, but, "Once they get finished with the rice harvest, then we go and close off all the pipes, we call it, and we turn the water wells on and flood the fields," explains Frey, discussing how they prepare the land for crawfish harvesting.
But the heavy August rain acted as their natural well and filled their crawfish ponds with 18 inches of water, just enough to harvest crawfish. "We didn't have to turn any pumps on. We harvested some of our rice, closed them off, and all our rainwater we held. So, you know, that was a benefit," said Frey.
Not only did the excessive rain, mild winter, and early warm temps bring out the wild dewberries that line the bank, but now crawfish season is in full swing, six weeks ahead of schedule, with a going rate of about $2.50 per pound.
"It was an odd year, but it's always something in farming," said Frey.
For more information, visit the Four Oaks Farm Facebook page.