AGRICULTURE. Agriculture is the leading in dustry of the State. Of the total land area 69.9 per cent. (1900) is included, in farms, and of this 40.2 per cent. is improved. The largest farm acreage recorded was in 1860, but the largest improved acreage was reached in 1900, a large increase having been made in each decade since 1870. The large plantations have been broken up and rented to negro farmers. The average size of farms has consequently decreased ur.til in 1900 it was 117.5 acres, a little over one fourth as large as that in 1850, while the rented farms have increased rapidly in number, amount ing in 1900 to 59.9 per cent. of the total. About 37 per cent. of the farms are operated by colored farmers, and over 86 per cent. of these are rented. The negro farmer limits himself largely to the raising of cotton—being encouraged in this by the prevailing system of crop mortgaging, and by his disinclination to adopt new methods. As a result three-fourths of the total number of farms cultivated by negroes are rented and de voted to the raising of cotton.
of the total crop receipts. The Civil War resulted in a decrease in the area devoted to cotton, but since 1870 every decade has shown an increase. For several years Georgia has ranked second among the cotton-growing commonwealths. Geor gia is the largest producer of sea-island cotton, although this variety covers less than five per cent. of its cotton-growing area. Cotton has been so long king in Georgia that little improve ment was observed as regards general agriculture until latterly, when there has been a marked advance. Cereals are of especial importance in the northern part of the State. Corn, the leading cereal, as indicated above, represents almost five times the area of all the other cereal crops. In the last decade of the century the acre age of corn increased 34.7 per cent. Oats and wheat are of about equal importance. In the last decades of the nineteenth century there were large decreases in the acreage of oats, and in the period 1880-90 this decrease was also shared by wheat, which, however, revived in the following decade. The yield per acre of cereals is small. Rice constitutes an important crop in the coast counties, where in 1900 63.4 per cent. of its entire acreage was located. The hay
and forage crops are relatively of little im portance. Sugar-cane is grown in increasing quantities, and the larger part of the crop is used in the manufacture of syrup. Some sorghum is also raised. Georgia ranks second among the States in the raising of peanuts, the area devoted to them having almost doubled in the decade 1890 1900, the extreme southern counties being the largest producers. In recent years fruit and vege table growing has increased rapidly. The sweet potato is the most important vegetable, in the production of which the State ranks next to North Carolina. Owing to its situation, the State commands the earliest Northern markets for vegetable and fruit products. The State ranks first in the production of watermelons, with an acreage of 27,874 reported in 1900. The number of peach-trees increased from 2,787,000 in 1890 to 7,668,000 in 1900, constituting in the latter year 68.2 per cent. of the total number of fruit trees of all varieties. Small plants are not ex tensively cultivated.
The following comparative table, taken from the census returns of 1900, includes the most im portant farm crops and varieties of farm annuals, and shows the changes which have occurred dur ing the decade ending with that year In the swampy regions in the southern part of the State there is much waste land, and also in the mountains of the northern part. Between these two sections lies the cotton belt. The total area devoted to cotton exceeds that of any other crop, amounting in 1899 to 41.8 per cent, of the total crop area, and yielding 56.7 per cent.
SrocK-RAiscco. As is common in regions v-here cotton is the principal crop, stock-raising is not of very great importance. Mille there was a significant increase in the industry during the last decade of last century, it has not regained the prominence it held prior to the Civil War. With the exception of mules and asses, more domestic animals of all kinds were reported in 1850 than in any succeeding census year. The increase in cotton production after the Civil War diminished the grazing area, and hindered the revival of the stock-raising industry. It is noteworthy that whereas horses greatly out numbered the mules prior to the Civil War, this ratio is now reversed.