Commodities produced from the earth which are planted, raised, and gathered within the course of a single season.
Crops might be produced either naturally or under cultivation. This distinction becomes important when determining whether a crop is to be sold as PERSONAL PROPERTY or as real estate, and also in terms of how crops are to be devised.
Fructus naturales are crops that are produced by the powers of nature alone, without any harvesting methods. They include fruit trees, berries growing on bushes, and hay growing spontaneously from perennial roots. They are considered real property when they are not severed from the land, but personal property when severed.
Fructus industriales, or emblements, are annual crops that are raised by yearly labor and owe their existence to human intervention and cultivation. Such crops include wheat, corn, and vegetables. Authorities differ as to whether they constitute real or personal property.
The ownership of crops is generally held to be in the owner of the land, whether the crops are natural or cultivated. The owner may voluntarily choose to sever and sell the crops, without being obligated to sell the land upon which they are grown. The situation often arises in which the land belongs to one person and the crops belong to another, such as in the case of one person leasing land from another person. In such a case, whoever is in possession of the land subject to the consent of the owner may take and carry away the products of land resulting from his or her own care and labor.
Ordinarily, crops that are attached to land at the time of a sale pass automatically to the buyer, except where the owner has provided to the contrary. Someone disposing of land may, therefore, stipulate the retention of the title to the crops.
It has been widely held that a trespasser who enters another person's land and cultivates crops does not acquire title to them, since the owner is lawfully entitled to full possession and enjoyment of his or her property. Some authorities have held that as long as crops planted by an intruder remain unsevered, they are the property of the owner of the land upon which they are planted, whereas severed crops belong to the trespasser if he or she possesses the land when the crops are ready to be harvested.