Management strategies that exclude the harvest of mature female crawfish from culture ponds early during the harvest season (December to February) to maximize juvenile recruitment and subsequent yield is common in the procambarid aquaculture industry. However, the efficacy of these practices is not research based. Because procambarid crawfish commonly burrow prior to oviposition, this study observed month of spawning for crawfish that burrowed during the early months of the harvesting season (winter) in Louisiana. Natural burrows were excavated monthly over 2 consecutive crawfish production seasons, and crawfish were placed in a laboratory in artificial burrows to complete oviposition. Spawning generally occurred within 2 mo of crawfish relocation and averaged 35%. Mean number of young per weight (measured in grams) of females was 16.7 for season 1 and 10.6 for season 2, and although these were significantly different, no differences were noted for number of offspring among months of burrowing within seasons. Few differences were noted for tissue indices among crawfish burrowing at different months within a season, indicating similar body condition. On average, month of spawning occurred during mid February, late March, mid April, and mid May for the December, January, February, and March burrowers, respectively. Offspring from crawfish burrowing after January are unlikely to contribute to the annual harvest within the current production season.
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Vol. 29 • No. 1