fanega

For the Portuguese unit, see fanga.

In Spain and the Spanish-speaking world, various units of dry capacity, mass and land area. Originally the fanega was a unit of dry capacity used for grain. It was also a unit of area, the amount of land that would be sown with a fanega of seed (see seed measures of land).

As a unit of capacity

Spain

In Spain, 20th century, a unit of dry capacity, about 55.501 liters (about 1.57 U.S. bushel).¹ link to a table showing relationships between Spanish units of dry capacity In earlier periods the value varied with locality, which is illustrated by the table below of values reported in the 19th century. Although the table gives values by province, bear in mind that in some provinces the same unit might be used throughout the province, but in others the value of the fanega would vary from village to village. The values reported by sources are typically those of the largest city.

A “media fanega” is half a fanega. Rather than multiplying everything by 2 to report values for the fanega, we have retained the term used in the source material, because the manner of reporting implies that the media fanega was the unit in everyday use.

Province Designation Capacity
in liters
Source
Álava media fanega 27.81 2
Albacete media fanega 28.325 2
Almería media fanega 27.531 2
Ávila media fanega 28.20 2
fanega 54.80 4
Badajoz media fanega 27.92 2
Burgos media fanega 27.17 2
Cáceres media fanega 26.88 2
Cádiz media fanega 27.272 2
Canarias media fanega of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
31.33 2
Doursther says this unit = 12 almudes
and was used for wheat, striken,
at 62.60 liters, and that for all other
grains and salt a much larger fanega
was used, heaped, of 88.07 liters. Neither of
the medio almuds reported by the Instituto
would give such a large fanega as a multiple.
62.60;
?88.07?
4
Cuidad-Real media fanega 27.29 2
Córdoba media fanega 27.60 2
Cuenca media fanega 27.10 2
Granada media fanega 27.35 2
Guadalajara media fanega 27.40 2
Guipúzcoa media fanega 27.65 2
Huelva media fanega 27.531 2
Huesca fanega* 22.46 2
Jaén media fanega 27.37 2
Logroño media fanega 27.47 2
Madrid media fanega 27.67 2
Málaga media fanega 26.97 2
fanega 56.373;
54.684
3,4 
Murcia media fanega 27.64 2
Oviedo media fanega asturiana
37.07 2
fanega = 12 celemines = 48 cuartillos 75.34; 73.07 4
Palencia media fanega 27.7505 2
Salamanca media fanega 27.29 2
Santander media fanega 27.42 2
fanega 54.73 4
Segovia media fanega 27.30 2
Sevilla media fanega 27.35 2
Soria media fanega 27.57 2
Teruel media fanega 21.40 2
fanega 43.42 4
Toledo media fanega 27.705 2
Valladolid media fanega 27.39 2
Vizcaya media fanega 28.46 2
Zamora media fanega 27.64 2
Zaragoza fanega* 22.42 2

*We strongly suspect, solely on the basis of the magnitude, that a transcription error was made in 1886 and that these “fanegas” should be “media fanegas”. However, so far we don't have other sources for these locales and date.

1. Technical Conversion Factors..., 1972, page 157. Also UN 1966.

2. Dirección General del Instituto Geográfico y Estadístico.
Equivalencias entre las Pesas y Medidas Usadas Antiguamente en las Diversas Provincias de España y las Legales del Sistema Métrico-Decimal.
Publicadas de Real Orden.
Madrid: Imprenta de la Dirección General del Instituto Geográfica y Estadístico, 1886.

3. Kelly

4. Doursther

From Spain the unit spread to its colonies in the Americas.

Argentina

about 137 liters (about 3.89 U.S. bushels). chart symbol

Doursther (1840) estimated it at 132.14 liters, 3¾ Winchester bushels.

Chile globe icon

20th century , approximately 96.99 liters (about 2.75 U.S. bushels)  (UN 1966) (Technical Factors..., 1972, page 132.)

19th century, 90.75 L (Doursther).

Colombia

= 12 celemins, about 55.5 liters (about 1.57 U.S. bushel). Used for grain.

United Nations, 1966.

Technical Factors..., 1972, page 134.

Costa Rica

20th century, the UN reported it at = 24 cajuelas, approximately 408.00 liters.

19th century, the 1885 government report described it as 399.84 liters. The same report describes a special fanega for lime that is 9 arrobas or 103.513 kilograms.

United Nations, 1966.

Technical Conversion Factors..., 1972, page 137.

[Costa Rica. Ministerio de formento.]
Medidas y pesas del sistema métrico, y tablas de equivalencia con las antiguas.
San José de Costa Rica: Imprenta nacional, 1885.

Page 63.

Cuba

3 U.S. bushels, about 105.7 liters. Doursther says = 2 fanega of Cádiz, 109.60 L.

Dominican Republic

approximately 1,102.8 liters.

United Nations, 1966.

Ecuador

approximately 1,102.8 liters.

El Salvador

approximately 1,102.8 liters.

Guatemala

approximately 1,102.8 liters.

United Nations, 1966.

Ifni

approximately 1,102.8 liters.

United Nations, 1966.

Honduras, 20th century

approximately 1,102.8 liters.

United Nations, 1966.

Mexico

approximately 90.816 liters (about 2.577 U.S. bushels).

20th century (UN 1966)

Morocco globe icon

56 liters

Nicaragua

187.5 liters (= 24 medios of 7812.5 milliliters each)

Paraguay

approximately 288 liters (about 8.17 U.S. bushels).
20th century

United Nations, 1966.

Peru

1½ imperial bushels

United States, Territory of New Mexico

An act of 12 January 1852, legalized the fanega as a unit of capacity. The half fanega was set = 2476¼ cubic inches.

Report of the Secretary of the Treasury on the Construction and Distribution of Weights and Measures.
Senate. 34th Congress, 3rd Session. Ex. Doc. No. 27.
Washington: A.O. P. Nicholson, Printer, 1857.

Page 83. The author of the report was A. D. Bache.

Uruguay

136.30 liters (3¾ imperial bushels) Doursther.

Venezuela globe icon

about 117.5 liters (about 3.33 U.S. bushels)

As a unit of mass

The fanega seems to have became a unit of mass only in the New World. In the 19th century, it was a unit of mass in the cocoa trade, approximately 51 kilograms (except in Maracaibo, where it was approximately 44 kilograms). In Havana, it was both a measure of capacity (approximately 109 liters) and mass (approximately 92 kilograms). (Doursther 1840, page 145.)

Bolivia see fanega in Bolivia
Colombia

Technical Conversion Factors..., 1972, page 133.

25 kilograms, used for rice
Costa Rica, 20th century

UN 1966

Technical Factors..., 1972, page 137.

= 2 quintales = 92.00 kilograms
Ecuador, 20th century

UN 1966.

Technical Conversion Factors..., 1972, page 150.

= 200 libras = 2 quintals = 92.0 kilograms (approximately 202.8 pounds av.). chart symbol
El Salvador, 20th century

UN 1966.

Technical Conversion Factors..., 1972, page 155.

UN (1966) says approximately 196 kilograms. TCF lists four values:
in libra in kg
432 199
480 221
600 276
720 331
Nicaragua, 20th century (UN 1966) approximately 161 kilograms (approximately 354.9 pounds av.).
Uruguay
20th century, = 100 kilograms. (UN 1966)

Technical Conversion Factors…, 1972, page 344.

Doursther says 225 - 230 libra of wheat (103.5 - 107.6 kg).

Venezuela 20th century (UN 1966) a unit of mass used for cereals and root vegetables, varying in value from 46 to 400 kilograms (approximately 101 - 882 pounds av.).

Technical Conversion Factors…, 1972, page 344 and 345. For maize, 110 kg. For cacoa, 51 kg.

As a unit of land area

Spain and Ifni

20th century, approximately 6,439.56 square meters. (UN 1966) In the 19th century and before there were a variety of values:

The fanega as a unit of land area in Spain,
as reported in the 19th century
Province Equivalents square meters
Álava = 660 estados each 49 square pies  2510.7956 2
Albacete = 10,000 square varas 7005.69 2
Almería = 9216 square Castillian varas, for unirrigated land 6439.5617 2
ávila = 5625 square varas 3930.3966 2
fanega de puño, = 6000 square varas 4192.4230 2
Badajoz = 9216 square varas 6439.5617 2
Burgos 6439.5617 2
Cáceres = 9216 square varas 6439.5617 2
Cádiz 6439.5617 2
Canarias = 7511 1/9 square Castillian varas 5248.2925 2
Castellón = 200 brazas reales 831.0964 2
Cuidad-Real 6439.5617 2
Córdoba = 8760 ⁵⁄₁₂ square varas 6121.2287 2
Cuenca 6439.5617 2
Granada 6439.5617 2
Guadalajara = 4444 4/9 square varas 3105.4985 2
Guipúzcoa = 4900 square varas 3432.7881 2
Huelva = 5280 square varas 3689.3323 2
Huesca = 1200 square varas 7151.808 2
Jaén = 8963 square Castillian varas 6262.7812 2
Logroño = 2722 square Castillian varas 1901.9626 2
Madrid fanega called “marco de Madrid”,
= 4900 square varas of Burgos
3423.8121 2
= 4900 square varas of the standard of Madrid 3482.1801 2
Málaga = 8640 square varas 6037.0891 2
Murcia = 9600 square varas 6707.8768 2
Salamanca = 9216 square varas 6439.5617 2
Santander = 9216 square varas 6439.5617 2
Sevilla = 8507 13/16 square Castillian varas 5944.7248 2
Soria = 3200 square varas 2235.9589 2
Teruel = 1600 square Castilian varas 1117.9795 2
Toledo = 500 estadales, or
about 6722 2/9 square Castillian varas
4697.0665 2
= 400 estadales, or
about 5377 7/7 square Castillian varas
3757.6532 2
Valencia = 1012½ square Valencian varas 8310.964 2
Zamora = 4800 square varas 3353.9384 2

2. Dirección General del Instituto Geográfico y Estadístico.
Equivalencias entre las Pesas y Medidas Usadas Antiguamente en las Diversas Provincias de España y las Legales del Sistema Métrico-Decimal.
Publicadas de Real Orden.
Madrid: Imprenta de la Dirección General del Instituto Geográfica y Estadístico, 1886.

Bolivia

see fanega in Bolivia

Mexico

Two units. “sembradura” means “sowing”, “maiz” is maize and “trigo” is wheat.

fanega castellanas de sembradura de maíz, = ¹⁄₁₂ caballeria de tierra, a rectangle 376 by 194 varas, about 35,663 square meters (about 8.81 acres). At least as early as the 16th century – 19th century.

fanega de sembradura de trigo, 8882 square varas, about 6237 square meters.

 

*A value we calculated from values in the source. All other values are as given in the source.

State of Guanajuato
Town Unit Equivalents Length
in varas
Width
in varas
Area
in square varas
Area
in sq. meters
Comment
La Luz fanega de sembradura   228 228 51,984*    
Silao fanega ranchera   166 500 83,000* 58,520  
Romita fanega         61.171  
          17,566.007  
Irapuato fanega de sembradura de maiz = ¹⁄₇ caballeria          
Salamanca fanega de sembradura = ¹⁄₁₂ caballeria          
Abasolo fanega   400 600 240,000*    
Huanímaro     400 600 240,000*    
Celya   = ¹⁄₇ caballeria 200 400 80,000   7 12 error  
Apaseo fanega = ¹₁₂ caballeria     50,784    
Comonfort fanega de tierra   276 148 40,848*    
Santa Cruz fanega de tierra       8,000    
Cortazar fanega de sembradura   200 400      
Tarimoro fanega de sembradura   200 400      
Santiago Maravatío fanega   276 184 50,784*    
Yuriria fanega ranchera   276 184 50,784*    
Uriangato fanega de tierra       about 60,000    
Moroleón fanega   276 184 50,784*    
Coroneo            

No se puede resolver esa [sic] pregunta por no haber en la población ingeniero ni persona práctica que pueda hacerlo.

This question cannot be answered because there is no engineer or practical person in the population who can do it.

San Francisco del Rincón fanega de sembsadura [sic] = 1/12 cab* 318 159 50,562*    
Piedra Gorda fanega   278 184 51,152    
Allende fanega   200 400 80,000*    
Ciudad González            

Usase de la semilla agraria llamada caballería y da su subdivisión en fanegas: aquella de 1,104 varas de largo por 552 de ancho, cuya área ó superficie es la de 609,408 varas cuadradas, y ésta (la fanega) difiere en extensión de varios modos, según opiniones diversas de los labradores, quienes, si bien están de acuerdo con la medida cientifica tratándose de la caballeria, no lo están, sin embargo, respecto del número de fanegas que ésta deba tener, considerándola unos por cuatro fanegas, otros por cinco y algunos por seis, en lugar de las doce que le concede la medida agraria. De esas tres subdivisiones, parece que la tercera es la más adoptable, por tener alguna relación más apropiada con lo que la ciencia establece. Asi una fanega de sembradura está considerada prácticamente por el doble de la medida cientifica ó sea por una superficie de 101,568 varas cuadradas y sus lados de 368 X 276 varas.

Use of the agrarian seed called caballeria and give its subdivision into fanegas: that of 1,104 varas long by 552 wide, whose area or surface is that of 609,408 square varas, and this (the fanega) differs in extension in several ways, according to diverse opinions of the farmers, who, although they agree with the scientific measure in the case of the caballeria, do not, however, regarding the number of fanegas that it should have, considering it one, for four fanegas, others for five and some for six, instead of the twelve that the agrarian measure grants. Of these three subdivisions, it seems that the third is the most adoptable, because it has some more appropriate relationship with what science establishes. Thus a fanega de sembradura is considered practically as the double of the scientific measure or by an area of 101,568 square varas and its sides of 368 X 276 varas.

Ocampo fanega de sembradura   376 184      
Victoria fanega   376 184 69,184    
State of Michoacán
Town Unit Equivalents Length
in varas
Width
in varas
Area
in square varas
Area
in sq. meters
Comment
Puruándiro fanega de sembradura de maiz   376 184      
Huango     40 120 4800*    
Huaniqueo fanega de sembradura de maiz   377 200 75,400*    
Coeneo fanega de sembradura de maiz   276 184      
Pandindícuaro fanega de sembradura = 2 cargas de sembradura de trigo 276 184 50,784    
Angamacutiro     310 150 46,500*    
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               

sources

1

10. Testamento de Ygnacio Antonio Carrillo, del barrio del Espiritu Santo, San Juan Bautista Metepec, año 1568.

[90] Y digo, que una tierra de una fanega de sembradura de maíz que está en el paraje nombrado el Poso Nuevo, ésta se les queda a todas las imágenes para que de ahí saquen para velas, copal y rosas y lo que se gaste todo el año; cúmplase mi palabra.

And I say, that a land of a fanega de sembradura de maíz that is in the place named the New Ground, this one is left to all the images so that from there they take out for candles, copal and roses and what is spent all the year; fulfill my word.

Teresa Rojas Rabiela, Elsa Leticia Rea López and Constantino Medina Lima.
Vidas y bienes olvidados. Testamentos indigenas novohispanos. Vol 1.
México, D.F. : Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social : Municipio de Mazapil : Archivo Histórico del Estado de San Luis Potosí : Instituto Zacatecano de Cultura "Ramón López Velarde, ©2002-2004.
Page 125

2

La caballería de tierra se divide tambien en doce fanegas castellanas de sembradura de maíz, y la fanega tiene de área 50784 varas cuadradas, que resultan de multiplicar su largo 376 [sic, but a typographical error for 276. See note below] varas por su ancho 184 varas.

Se regulan caber en una caballería de tierra 69 fanegas de sembradura de trigo, ocupando cada fanega de éstas una estension superficial de 8882 varas cuadradas.

The caballería de tierra is also divided into twelve fanegas castellanas de sembradura de maiz, and the fanega has an area of 50784 square varas, which results from multiplying its length, 276* varas, by its width, 184 varas.

Sixty-nine fanegas de sembradura de trigo are arranged to fit in a cabellería de tierra, each fanega occupying an area of 8882 square varas.

Mariano Galván Rivera.
Ordenanzas de Tierras y Aguas, ó sea: Formulario Geométrico-Judicial ... 2nd Ed., corrected and enlarged.
Mexico [City]: printed for Leandro J. Valdes, 1844.
Page 74.

*Note. This error has been carried forward for more than a century (including previous editions of this page). For example, page 2 of Sistema Métrico-Decimal (México: J. M. Andrade and F. Escalante, 1857) says, reformatted:

1 Fanega de sembradura de maiz, largo 376 varas, ancho 184 varas, area 50784 sq varas = 3.5662759 hectares

The typo was finally spotted by Jose Pareda.

3

MEDIDAS AGRARIAS

Son tan notables por su rara estravagancia, que con dificultad se concibe cómo puedan haber sido inventadas. Su falta de unidad se hará evidente, solo con recorrer las tablas adjuntas, aun sin hacerle caso á la bárbara nomenclatura de que se ha hecho uso. Entretanto, harémos notar que las superficies de los terrenos suelen á veces valuarse en caballerías, otras en fanegas de sembradura y otras en varas cuadradas, á lo que en realidad todas vienen á quedar reducidas, y es lo mas natural y sencillo.

AGRARIAN MEASURES

They are so remarkable for their strange extravagance, that it is difficult to conceive how they could have been invented. Their lack of unity will be evident, just by going through the attached tables, even without paying attention to the barbarous nomenclature that has been used. In the meantime, we will note that the land areas are sometimes valued in caballerias, others in fanegas de sembradura and others in square varas, to which in reality all come to be reduced, and it is the most natural and simple thing.

xv

Peru

1.615 acre, varies locally.

Venezuela, 20th century

a unit of area varying in value from 4500 to 40,000 square meters. (UN 1966)

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