You can waste a lot of time making coins very slowly in Farmville, so I decided to see which crops would work out best in the long run.
- You've started recently. Not all crops are available, and you have a 12 x 12 square plot.
- You don't want to spend real money on Farmville.
- I've assumed you're playing for coins and to some degree XP, not mastery. Mastery will come if you focus on specific crops anyhow.
- I've assumed that you return to the game as soon as your crops are ready and start them going again instantly. Of course, no one would really get up in the middle of the night to harvest their strawberries, would they?
- I've looked at the first 8 weeks of your crop - that assumes you don't die of boredom in the meantime. This seemed a good length of time to let economies of scale play out.
- I've taken into account the fact that space is limited (so a dense crop will make more money than a sparse one, all else being equal).
- I've taken into account that you have to buy vegetables and pay to plow the land for each harvest; whilst for trees and animals you buy them once and they just keep on giving.
- I haven't included any extra help (e.g. aborists, tractors, gifts), or limited time items.
We'd like to be in the top right of the chart below - crops that give you high profits and high XP. This chart shows how much of each we've gained after 8 weeks of planting only that crop in our 12 x 12 plot. But those crops outlined in blue would require a huge amount of dedication - returning to the game every four hours in the case of blueberries.
The green dots on the other hand, require a visit of once a day or less, and are still fairly profitable. I recommend these. Stick to trees if you really don't want to put too much effort in.
Let's look at the trends for profitability. On the chart below you can see the different types of crop over the first 8 weeks of planting only that crop on your whole plot as often as you can. Again, the blueberries etc. stand out as being profitable, but we're not interested in dedicating our lives to Farmville so let's look at the best of the rest. Peppermint is the best of the non-perennial crops. But by week 8, trees are starting to overtake. They require a big initial outlay, but you can see it's going to pay off. Lime has the steepest line - that means it'll be the most profitable in the long run.
What about animals? Well, they look cute and you can fit four in a square. But the only one you'll be able to buy when you begin is a sheep (I'm not counting limited time items). It hasn't even paid for itself by week 8, so I wouldn't recommend it.
This is a beginner's view of the game - and I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to persist with Farmville. Do let me know in the comments below if I'm missing the point somehow.