King Corn Seizes Agave’s Turf

Coca. Agave. Potatoes. All crops prized for their intoxicating end-products (cocaine, tequila, and cheese fries, respectively). And now, all crops being replaced by good old-fashioned corn.

The Arizona Republic reports that leafy cornstalks are replacing agave plants in Mexico, as commodity prices go haywire.

With white corn selling in Mexico for 18 cents a pound this month—its highest price in at least a decade—compared with as little as 2 cents for agave, the switch was probably inevitable, said Martín Sánchez, director of agriculture for the tequila council.

‘We don’t have good numbers, but we know it is happening: People are abandoning their fields of agave and flipping over to other crops,’ Sánchez said.

This isn’t necessarily the end of the world, or even good tequila, for that matter: The agave bust reflects an agave boom in 2002, when the plant was selling for 80 cents a pound. In the wake of that spike, farmers all over Mexico responded by planting agave, as did tequila producers.