RACELAND, La. -- Crawfish season has arrived early thanks to a mild fall and early winter, according to farmers.
Aside from the current cold snap, which has temporarily halted harvesting in James Cantrell's 25 acres of pond near Raceland, the season has gotten off to a good start.
'We had a lot of warm season and we've been selling crawfish now for almost two months,' Cantrell said.
As operational costs continue soaring, Cantrell said an extended harvest period can make a big difference.
'If you can get a couple -- or three or four -- weeks of early season, where the price is $3.50 or $4.00 a pound, you can help defer some of your expenses that occur during the year,' he said.
The benefits are spilling over to retailers like Lionel 'Nick' Harris, who said he's already selling between 60 to 85 sacks a day at his shop, Nick's Seafood, in Raceland.
'I worked New Year's Day, New Year's Eve, and it was a great day. I was amazed that (customers) were buying that much crawfish so early and so quick right now,' Harris said.
The early season means the product is bigger and better than usual for this time of year, Harris said.
With big events like Mardi Gras and the New Orleans-hosted Super Bowl just around the corner, he's optimistic that sales will climb.
'We'll have a beautiful season if it continues like it is right now,' Harris said.
Cantrell says he plans to ramp up his work baiting traps and harvesting next week, as he and other Louisiana crawfish farmers try to meet demand for their product.
'The crawfish we have here are good-tasting, remarkable crawfish, and I think that there's none better anywhere else,' he said.