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La. Farm Bureau/Radio Network‏

February 25, 2014

Crawfish Fact And Fiction

With crawfish season underway, south Louisiana residents look forward to dining on a regional delicacy, either in a backyard setting or a restaurant.

Recipes and routines for preparing crawfish for the pot are followed closely after being passed down from generations. "This has allowed some myths or misconceptions to creep into the practice of entertaining with crawfish," said Ray McClain, LSU AgCenter crawfish researcher at the Rice Research Station near Crowley. He said one of the myths involves using salt to clean or purge crawfish before boiling. "Research at the LSU AgCenter has shown that the addition of salt to the wash water provides no significant advantage in cleansing crawfish despite the numerous claims to the contrary." Washing crawfish for as little as 10 minutes in water helps remove mud and debris but does little to eliminate intestinal wastes, he said, and salt appears to be of no benefit. "The only way to significantly reduce size and content of the intestinal tract is with a 12- to 24-hour freshwater purge, which is difficult and impractical for homeowners to do."

Another myth involves the reluctance to eat crawfish with straight tails under the mistaken belief that tail curl is indicative of crawfish health before boiling. It is believed by some that only live crawfish at the time of cooking will exhibit tightly curled tails, but this is not necessarily the case, McClain said. "Research at the LSU AgCenter showed that the degree of tail curl in cooked crawfish was not significantly different between crawfish alive at the time they were cooked and those that had been dead but stored in a cooler for five days prior to cooking." But, he said, research by the LSU AgCenter concluded that straight tails may have been the result of some physical explanation when boiling occurred, such as putting too many crawfish in a pot. "While that study did not investigate safety or quality issues, the results suggest that the age-old adage of avoiding straight-tailed crawfish at a crawfish boil, as a means of ensuring safety and quality, may not be reliable and certainly has little to do with knowing the living status of the animal at the time of cooking," McClain said.

Soybean Planting Dates For Louisiana

LSU AgCenter Soybean Specialist Dr. Ronnie Levy reports seeding dates for soybeans can be affected by environmental conditions because weather conditions are different from year to year. Generally, says Levy, late plantings have less chance of success unless irrigation is available or optimal weather and timely rains occur through the growing season. Soybeans can be planted in Louisiana as early as March 15th and as late as July 4th if weather conditions are favorable. If planting is delayed beyond June 15th, soybeans become more of a risk. Yields have been shown to decline approximately 1/2 bushel per day for each day planting is delayed past June 15th. Optimal seeding dates for each maturity group planted in Louisiana:

Group III and IV: April 15--May 10

Group V: March 25--May 5

Group VI: March 25--April 30

Louisiana Couple Named Outstanding Farmers

Christian and Julie Richard of Kaplan, LA, were selected national winners at the 58th annual National Outstanding Young Farmers (NOYF) Awards Congress earlier this month. Four national winners were selected from a group of 10 finalists for the award based on their progress in an agricultural career, extent of soil and water conservation practices, and contributions to the well-being of the community, state, and nation.

The three other national winners for 2014 are from Michigan, Ohio, and Wyoming. National winners received a savings bond from corporate sponsor John Deere and the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., during National Ag Week in 2015.

The Richards raise rice, soybeans, and crawfish, operating from the philosophy that conservation and farming go hand in hand. Their progressive farming practices and devotion to the future of agriculture are evident in their involvement in local and state organizations.

Christian currently serves as president of the local soil and water conservation district and is also the past president of the Louisiana Rice Growers, president of the Vermilion Parish Rice Growers, vice president of the state Rice Promotion Board, and a member of the parish Rice Advisory Committee. Christian is a graduate of the Rice Leadership Development Program and a Louisiana Master Farmer graduate. Julie is a former assistant director of field services for Farm Bureau and is now employed full time on the farm.

The NOYF program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the United States, selecting its first group of national winners in 1955. The program is sponsored by John Deere, administered by the Outstanding Farmers of America (OFA), and supported by the U.S. Jaycees and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.

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