France has always been and is still today a more agricultural than industrial region. Although there are fewer and fewer peasants out of the total population (75% in 1850, 38.3% in 1926), only a tenth of the country’s surface is not cultivated. Land ownership is very divided: the owners themselves cultivate 60% of the area under cultivation, leaving the tenants 27% and the settlers 13%. Small plots are therefore the general rule: properties smaller than 1 hectare could be raised to 2.5 million and the average size of the farms fixed at 8.65 hectares.
Cereals occupy the first place, despite the increase in land dedicated to the production of fodder. In 1913 they occupied 13,428,325 hectares; in 1923 (with Alsace and Lorraine) they occupied only 11,350,990 hectares, with a decrease of over two million hectares (more than 16%). The grain alone covered an area that was 20% less than that of 1913; on the other hand, the land reserved for the cultivation of fodder plants, temporary meadows, natural meadows, pastures for fattening cattle increased from 10,250,128 hectares in 1913 to 11,314,430 ha. in 1923, with an increase of over 10%; change whose cause is to be found in the rise in the price of livestock and its products, stronger than that of the price of cereals, especially wheat, and also in the need, on the part of farmers, to reduce the use of labor. From 1923 to today the area given to cereals has remained practically stationary (11,109,750 ha. In 1929).
Of all the products of French agriculture, the most important is wheat, which occupies about 50% of the area cultivated with cereals. In no country of Europe, except Italy, is such a large extension of land devoted to wheat. This plant requires a soil rich in lime and phosphoric acid and a temperate climate, with spring rains, conditions offered by many regions of France: the plains of Beauce, Brie and Flanders, the Picardy plateau, the Poitou threshold, the Aquitaine Basin, the alluvial corridors of Provence. From the century XIX to date the quantity has more than doubled, indeed in the best years tripled from 25-30 million q. in 1815, production increased to 65-90 million (76.5 million q. in 1928; 91.7 in 1929; 62.9 in 1930); however the average yields per hectare (from 12 to 17 q.) are not very high. After the war the quantity of wheat is no longer sufficient for consumption: in 1928 France imported 10.2 million q. of wheat, in 1929, 14, 1 million, in 1930, 10.4 million. In any case, it ranks first among the large producing countries.
According to Topb2bwebsites, the interest in the cultivation of wheat does not mean that other cereals are neglected. Oats occupy vast expanses in the NO., In the OR. and in the SO.: its cultivation includes about 3.5 million hectares, its production is around 45-55 million quintals (49 million in 1928; 54 in 1929; 44 in 1930), with an average yield per ha. from 13 to over 15 q. Corn, which needs humidity and heat, is only successful in the Bresse area, in the reculées of the Jura and especially in the molasses region of the Aquitan basin. The crops of 1929 and 1930 yielded 4,739,000 and 5,594,000 q respectively. Buckwheat, rye and barley, less demanding than maize and wheat, grow well in Brittany and the Massif Central (plateau des Ségalas). In recent harvests, buckwheat yielded from 3.5 to 4 million quintals; the rye, on a surface of 770-790.000 ha., gave from 7.5 to 9 million q. (average yield from 9.5 to 12 million q.); the barley, on a surface of 700-750.000 ha., gave 10-12 million q. (14-17 q. Per hectare).
Among the food crops, immediately after cereals is the potato, which serves as nourishment, not only for humans, but also for domestic animals and supplies the industry with starch and alcohol. It adapts to various types of soil and equally thrives in different climates: it is cultivated in all departments, on an area that reached 900,000 ha. in 1846, it was over 1,400,000 in 1886, 1,500,000 in 1913, 1,416,000 in 1930. In 1913 the average yield was 88 q. per ha., and the total production of 136 million q. Presently the less favorable years give a production exceeding 100 million q. (112.639.500 q. In 1928, 162.517.600 q. In 1929, 134.289.970 q. In 1930), while the yield, in the best years, exceeds 100 quintals (115.6 in 1929).
For a long time legumes and fruits, which were subject to limited traffic, occupied a second-rate place among agricultural products; but, since the century. XIX, things have changed radically. Whole regions have specialized in the cultivation of these products, organizing their sale. Today, around large cities and in areas favored by fertile soil, abundant water and a certain degree of heat, legumes and first fruits are grown on a large scale. The Rhone valley, with the irrigated plains of the Comté and Petite Crau, the huertas of Roussillon, the valleys of the Lot and the Garonne, the surroundings of Brive, the côtes of Brittany (country of Léon), the surroundings of Paris, the valley of the Somma (gardens of the surroundings of Amiens) have become centers of horticulture, which give a raw product per hectare, which cannot be equaled by that of any other crop, except for the vine. In the period between 1910 and 1914, the average exports of fresh fruit reached 121,200 tons. and that of exports of fresh legumes to 64,436 tons; for the department of Valchiusa alone, the value of fruit and horticulture products (beans, melons, artichokes, peas) is calculated at seven million francs. The main foreign customers are England, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium.
Few countries have as much variety of fruit as France does: strawberries from Brittany, pears and apples from western regions, plums from Agenais, olives from Languedoc and Provence, chestnuts from the Massif Central (Vivarais and Limousin), oranges and lemons of the Côte d’Azur, cherries and morello cherries from the Vosges. But special mention deserves the cider apple, which is the tree of the humid regions, and the olive tree, which is the tree of the Mediterranean regions. The departments in which cider apple cultivation is most developed are those of Brittany (Ille-et-Vilaine, Morbihan and Côtes-du-Nord) and those of Normandy (Manche, Calvados, Orne). The total average production of cider being 15 million hl. (13.8 million hl were produced in 1928; in 1929, a very favorable year, 23 million hl.) quantity exceeding the country’s consumption, France exports it to maritime countries across the Channel and the North Sea. The olive tree in Languedoc retreats before the vine, as on the beaches of Provence and the Côte d’Azur it gives way to flower crops (roses, carnations, mimosas), which are more productive. However, more than 400,000 quintals are produced annually. of olives (435.320 q. in 1928-1929, 487.700 in 1929-30, 409.880 in 1930-31), which give from 70 to 85.000 q. of oil. However, more than 400,000 quintals are produced annually. of olives (435.320 q. in 1928-1929, 487.700 in 1929-30, 409.880 in 1930-31), which give from 70 to 85.000 q. of oil. However, more than 400,000 quintals are produced annually. of olives (435.320 q. in 1928-1929, 487.700 in 1929-30, 409.880 in 1930-31), which give from 70 to 85.000 q. of oil.