The occupation of all Macedonian land by the Sultan lasted until the 17th century, when the situation changed gradually in favor of the big Muslim landowners. Their properties steadily evolved into 'chiftliks', huge estates cultivated by serfs ('chifts'). At the same time, the wretched villages of the serfs in the plains mushroomed, especially around Serres.
In the 17th century, new crops were added to the basic cultivations of grains, vegetables, olive and fruit trees; these included tobacco, cotton, corn and rice. Tobacco was grown (late 18th century) chiefly by the Muslims in the area between the Loudias and Axios rivers. A new city, holy to the Ottomans, Yiannitsa, became famous for its tobacco.
View of Yianitsa
Lithograph, 19th century
In the 18th century, especially, because of the favorable trade conditions, cotton reigned in the valleys around Serres and Thessaloniki, providing an abundance of raw materials to the manufacturing industries of the latter, which up to then had been more dependent on a thriving animal husbandry. In the meantime, silk production had developed, supplying the silk factories of Thessaloniki.