French barley is the most common in the world. According to an Axema report, the country produced 11.5m tonnes of barley in 2021 and exported 6.6m tonnes, making it the second largest exporter of the crop in the world. Out of the 389,000 farms in France, 119,000 are crop farms and the average crop farm size is 89ha.

There are 15,000 horticultural businesses or market gardens with an average size of 11ha. To put this into perspective, there are less than 100 vegetable farmers in Ireland.

Crop production represented 61% of agricultural production in the country in 2021, accounting for just over €49.5m, up 11.6% on 2020. Increased production, as well as prices, contributed to this, while sugar beet had been hit by beet yellows virus in 2020. Sugar beet production recovered by 34.1%, also helped by the rising price of sugar.

Organic production

Looking at organic production in the country, in 2020 organic agriculture accounted for 2.5m hectares or 9.5% of the utilisable arable area, with 53,255 producers or 12% of farms.

Field and fodder crops took up 17.9% of that area, while vineyards were 17.3%, fruit was 14.6% and vegetables were 9.4%.

Visiting farms in France this week, farmers noted that payments are helping the income from organics, but as the number of farms in organics increases, markets are being affected and the differential between conventional and organics prices decreases.

To put the increase in organics into perspective in the country, the percentage of utilisable agricultural area under organics was 2% in 2005, 5% in 2015 and 9.5% in 2020.

Some other quick facts on French crops

  • Top European exporter of wheat and fifth largest exporter in the world.

    Second largest European producer and exporter of corn and sixth largest exporter of corn in the world.

    Top European producer of rapeseed – 3.3m tonnes.

    Fourth or fifth largest producer of rapeseed in the world.

    Fourth largest European producer of sunflowers.

    Top European producer of potatoes – 7.8m tonnes in 2021.

    Top exporter of potatoes in the world – 2.4m tonnes in 2021.

    Third largest producer of vegetables and fourth largest exporter of vegetables in Europe.

    Third largest producer of fruit and the sixth largest European exporter.