Once seen as a nuisance, rye sees a resurgence in Oklahoma

Jun 6, 2017

J.D. Drennan, senior agronomist for 46 Grain Company, stands in front of the grain elevator at Farmers' Elevator Company in Ames, Oklahoma.
Credit Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

This month Oklahoma will be gearing up for its annual rye harvest. Here on the High Plains we don’t hear as much about rye as we do about other crops like wheat, corn and sorghum.

But, as StateImpact reports, Oklahoma is actually the largest producer of rye in the United States, and demand is on the rise due to America’s craft beer and whisky explosion.

However, rye hasn’t always had the best reputation. It has a tendency to invade wheat crops, and many farmers still consider rye a nuisance. J.D. Drennan had been trying to avoid rye for twenty years when he met the folks at 46 Grain Company in the northwestern town of Ames. When they told him they were growing rye he replied, “No you don’t. Nobody grows rye on purpose.”

But now Drennan and many others across the state are indeed growing the grain on purpose, and Oklahoma’s rye is delighting beer and whiskey fans nationwide.