Farmers in North America are turning back to what Reuters calls a neglected crop, sowing fields with the largest rye crop in years as consumers satisfy a growing thirst for whiskey. Rye, planted in autumn and harvested in mid-summer, fell in popularity during the past decade as other crops produced bigger profits.
However, with whiskey demand high and new varieties of rye on the market, farmers have regained interest. U.S. farmers planted 1.76 million acres for the 2016-17 season, the biggest area since 1989 and a 12 percent increase from last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In Canada, a major rye exporter along with the European Union and Russia, farmers sowed 405,900 acres, the biggest rye area in seven years. Meanwhile, U.S. whiskey sales increased nine percent on the year to $4.1 billion in June, topping the six percent demand growth for total spirits.