According to Zipcodesexplorer, France ranks first among wine producing countries around the world. The vine thrives there in numerous departments up to a limit line that could be traced from Saint-Nazaire to Mézières to Paris. Due to excessive humidity, it is lacking in Brittany, Normandy and Picardy, while its favorite domain is the Mediterranean region and mainly Roussillon and Lower Languedoc, where it thrives in the most diverse soils: in the sands of the plains, in the limestones of the côtes and in the ancient marshes. In the Bordeaux area its cultivation is made easy by the climate, by sufficient heat and moderate humidity; and in the other parts of the country good products are obtained from the slopes well oriented with respect to the sun: the crest of the Isle of France, the Lorraine côtes, the Alsatian valleys, the Burgundian highlands, the eastern edge of the Massif Central, the reculées of the Jura, the Loire valley. The production of wine varies greatly from one year to the next: in 1875, it rose to 85 million hl. with an area of 2.250.000 ha .; during the phylloxera crisis, in 1889, it dropped to 25 million; in 1900, after the reconstitution of the vineyards, it rose to 67 million; and later it remained between 40 and 65 million for an area of approximately 1,500,000 hectares. The average yield per hectare is from 30 to over 40 hl., But there are vineyards that give even 300. The three departments of Lower Languedoc (Hérault, Aude, Gard) alone give half the French production; the production is lower in those regions (Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy, Beaujolais) which give world famous “quality wines”. Since internal consumption is approximately 45 million hl. (About 1 hl. Per inhabitant), wine is exported in considerable quantities.
The following mirror gives the wine production over a series of years:
Of all the industrial plants, the most important is sugar beet, which is grown on a large scale especially in the northern plains (Nord, Pas-de-Calais), in the loess lands of the Picardy plateau, in the central area of the Parisian Basin. (Aisne, Oise, Seine-et-Marne, Seine-et-Oise), where all the conditions favorable to its cultivation are combined: fertile soil, medium heat, abundant rainfall. The use of beet for the manufacture of sugar dates only from the early years of the century. XIX, that is from the time of the Continental Bloc. Since then, this crop has flourished more and more, especially following the suppression of slavery, which made sugar cane cultivation in the Antilles less profitable. Among the countries that are large producers of beets, in 1914, France, with 210,000 ha., occupied the fourth place. Most of the region used for this cultivation being located in an area of operations, the cultivation itself was reduced in 1914-15 to 93,432 ha., In 1917-18 to 65,763 ha., In 1918-19 to 54,690 ha. After 1919, efforts were made to speed up the reconstitution of the sugar industry (see later chapter industry), for which in 1919-20 the beet occupied 61.940 ha., in 1922-1923, 123.406 ha., in 1924-25, 214.000 ha.; currently the area cultivated with beets covers 240-250,000 ha., with a production of 50-60 million quintals.
In 1913 France gave just one hundredth part of the world production of flax: 190.000 q. of flax fiber on 17,000 ha. cultivated, marking a sharp decrease compared to the previous fifty years (in 1865, 600,000 quintals of fiber flax on 40,000 ha.). However, the state has tried to help this crop by assigning rewards to those who practice it. Thus the area planted with flax has had a new increase in recent years, as shown in the following table:
The cultivation of hemp, which finds the best soil and climate conditions (rich soils, temperate heat) in the western regions, and thrives above all in Anjou, Maine, Touraine, Lower Brittany, Poitou and Saintonge, from the middle of the century. XIX to date has shrunk extraordinarily, as the following mirror shows:
In the years 1928, 1929 and 1930 the production was respectively 37,720, 53,680 and 47,330 q. hemp fiber.
The cultivation of oil seeds (rapeseed, poppy and turnip) is also in decline, especially due to the disappearance of oil lighting. In 1882 it occupied 137,000 hectares; today it slightly exceeds 20,000 hectares.
Tobacco, whose trade is a monopoly of the state, is grown, with the authorization and under the supervision of the state itself, in 33 departments, mainly in the south-west (Lot-et-Garonne, Dordogne, Gironde). Thanks to chemical fertilizers, the yield of plantations is much higher in the northern regions than in the southern ones. The production, which is maintained between 230 and 285,000 quintals (in 1927, 287,490 q. On 15,660 ha.; in 1928, 227,080 q. On 15,430 ha.; in 1929, 285,330 q. On 14,820 ha.), Is far from sufficient for consumption, which is over 530,000 quintals.
As the use of beer becomes more and more common, hop lands are becoming more and more numerous, among which the best are those of Alsace, Lorraine, the North and Burgundy: in 1928 41,260 quintals were collected; in 1929, 62,490 q.; in 1930, 29,425 quintals.