Rye is a cereal grain and a member of the grass family. Hardy varieties of rye have been developed for winter planting. Rye is most widely grown in northern Europe and Asia. In the U.S., rye is used as an animal feed and as an ingredient in bread and some whiskeys. Bread using rye was developed in northern Europe in the Middle Ages where bakers developed dark, hearty bread consisting of rye, oat and barley flours. Those were crops that grew more readily in the wet and damp climate of northern Europe, as opposed to wheat which fares better in the warmer and drier climates in central Europe. Modern rye bread is made with a mixture of white and rye flours. Coarsely ground rye flour is also used in pumpernickel bread and helps provide the dark color and course texture, along with molasses. The major producing states are North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Georgia. The crop year runs from June to May.
Supply - World rye production in 2007-08 marketing year rose by +15.1% yr/yr to 14.246 million metric tons, up from last year's record low of 12.377 million metric tons. The world's largest producers of rye are the European Union with 53% of world production in 2007-08, followed by Russia with 27%, Belarus with 9%, and the Ukraine with 4%. U.S. production of rye accounted for only 1.4% of world production.
U.S. production of rye in 2007 rose +10.0% to 7.914 million bushels but that was far below the production levels of over 20 million bushels seen from the late 1800s through the 1960s. U.S. production of rye fell off in the 1970s, and fell to a record low of 6.971 million bushels in 2002.
U.S. acreage harvested with rye in 2007-08 rose +5.5% to 289,000 acres, which is farther up from the record low of 255,000 acres in 2001-02. U.S. farmers in the late 1800s through the 1960s typically harvested more than 1 million acres of rye, showing how domestic planting of rye has dropped off sharply in the past several decades.
Rye yield in 2007-08 rose +4.2% to 27.4 bushels per acre, but that is still well below the record high of 33.1 bushels per acre posted in 1984-85. Modern rye production yields are, however, more than double the levels in the teens seen prior to the 1960s when yields started to rise.
Demand - Total U.S. domestic usage of rye in 2007-08 fell -3.4% yr/yr to 12.800 million bushels. The breakdown of domestic usage shows that 26% of rye in 2007-08 was used for food, 23% by industry, 23% as seed, and 3% as feed and residual.
Trade - World exports of rye in the 2007-08 marketing year fell sharply by -55.5% yr/yr to a record low of 313,000 metric tons. The largest exporter was Belarus with exports of 150,000 metric tons. World imports of rye fell -49.9% to 312,000 metric tons. U.S. imports of rye in 2007-08 fell -15.3% yr/yr to 127,000 metric tons.