According to THEFREEGEOGRAPHY, the area cultivated with cereals cannot be subject to notable variations in a country of ancient agricultural exploitation, like ours; it occupies 23.6% of the total territorial surface (average of the five-year period 1928-32). Wheat alone absorbs more than two thirds of this area, that is approximately 4.8-4.900.000 hectares, an area slightly higher than the pre-war average (4.790.000 hectares in the five-year period 1909-1913) and subject to slight annual fluctuations. In absolute terms, the greatest extension of land cultivated with wheat is in Sicily, where grain-growing is an ancient tradition, which has never ceased to exist; followed at a great distance by Emilia, Puglia, Tuscany, Piedmont and Abruzzo. But the cultivated area is by no means directly related to production, because, while in northern Italy the cultivation is intensive, throughout the South – except in the plains of Campania and Puglia – it is extensive. For the production, Emilia (which, although it dedicates only i 6/8 of the land destined for it in Sicily) comes first; followed by Sicily, Lombardy, Piedmont, Veneto and Tuscany. If the area cultivated with wheat has increased only slightly compared to the pre-war period, the harvest has increased by far more: the average for the five-year period 1909-13 was 50.4 million quintals, that of the five-year period 1927- 31 was 62.2 million (in this five-year period 1929 reached the very high, unprecedented figure of 70.8 million; but 1927 gave only 53.3 million quintals). In 1932 the harvest exceeded 75 million quintals with a new significant leap forward on the figures of 1929.
It is known that, despite these very significant progress achieved, the wheat produced in Italy is not enough for the needs of the population, because consumption also gradually increases; on average, 180 kg are consumed today. the year per inhabitant, while in 1860 the consumption was calculated in half. If we take into account the grain needed for sowing, Italy’s annual requirement can be estimated at 82 million quintals; 15-18 million quintals must therefore be imported from abroad. The so -called battle of the grain, promoted by the government with great energy and with means adequate to the importance of the end, aims to free Italy from this burden. More than the increase in the area dedicated to grain cultivation – which is not advantageous except in cases where the reclamation works in progress make new particularly suitable land available (Pontine plain, Maremma, Sardinia, etc.) – we try to increase yield by improving cultivation systems (use of wheat varieties suitable for various soil and climate conditions, rational sowing processes and above all suitable fertilizations). The results already obtained can be measured on the basis of the figures of the average return; it was before the q war. 10.5 per hectare throughout Italy, while it rose to 12.5 in 1928, to 13.8 in 1931, to 15.2 in 1932. The yield of 16-17 q. per hectare necessary to cover the entire national needs, while maintaining the area currently cultivated, was greatly exceeded in 1931 in all of northern Italy (q. 21 per hectare .; Lombardy 25.2; province of Cremona 31, 6); while in central Italy only 12.2 q. were collected. per hectare and in the southern and islands 10.1-10.2 quintals. The differences are therefore still very high; but the possibility of arriving in the near future to provide the entire quantity necessary for the country does not seem to be questioned, judging by the progress made in a few years.
As already mentioned, wheat has an absolutely overwhelming importance over other cereals, which are therefore usually considered minor. Among these, we should remember above all rice, a crop typical of some of the lower areas of the Po Valley, where the necessary watering can be easily carried out. Out of approximately 140,000 cultivated hectares, 74,000 belong to Piedmont (Vercellese), almost 60,000 to Lombardy (Lomellina, surroundings of Ostiglia), the rest to Polesine and some areas of Romagna. The cultivated area tends to shrink, while the progress of the cultivation technique increases the yield, which from 33 q. per hectare (average 1909-13) has risen to 45 or more, and could still grow considerably. Annual production fluctuates between 6 and 7 million quintals and is much higher than the national requirement; a desirable increase in domestic consumption encounters obstacles in the habits of the populations of peninsular and insular Italy, who do not appreciate rice enough as a habitual food; the sale abroad, despite the fact that the Italian product is highly appreciated compared to Asian rice, today encounters some difficulties.
The cultivation of corn, which from the century. XVI spread widely in northern Italy and especially in the Veneto, it is now in decline. The cultivated area, now just over 1,300,000 hectares, has shrunk by 250,000 hectares in the last twenty years, and, since the average yield remains stationary, the harvest also tends to decrease (18-25 million quintals per year; however, 1932 marked a new increase). The growing preference for grain feeding has harmed this crop, while the use of corn as fodder is not yet widespread. Veneto cultivates an area (250,000 hectares) with corn that is slightly less than that cultivated with wheat; in Lombardy, the impulse to greater wheat production led to a contraction in the cultivation of maize. But for the quantity collected, Lombardy surpasses the Veneto; they follow Piedmont,