Major Crops of India

India is top producer country of many crops. The major crops in India can be divided into four categories viz. Food grains (Rice, Wheat, Maize, Millets and Pulses), Cash Crops (Cotton, Jute, Sugarcane, Tobacco, and Oilseeds), Plantation Crops (Tea, Coffee, Coconut and, Rubber) and Horticulture crops such as Fruits and Vegetables.
On the basis of seasons, the crops in India have been divided into Rabi, Kharif and Zaid crops.

Rabi, Kharif and Zaid Crops in India

Kharif crops
The Kharif crop is the summer crop or monsoon crop in India. Kharif crops are usually sown with the beginning of the first rains in July, during the south-west monsoon season. Major Kharif crops of India include Millets (Bajra and Jowar), Paddy (Rice), Maize, Moong (Pulses), Groundnut, Red Chillies, Cotton, Soyabean, Sugarcane, Turmeric etc.
Rabi Crops 

The Rabi crop is the spring harvest or winter crop in India . It is sown in October last and harvested in March April every year. Major Rabi crops in India include Wheat, Barley, Mustard, Sesame, Peas etc.

Zaid Crop

This crop is grown in some parts of country during March to June. Prominent examples are Muskmelon, Watermelon, Vegetables of cucurbitacae family such as bitter gourd, pumpkin, ridged gourd etc.

Major crops grown in India are discussed below:

Food grains

Rice

Rice is predominantly a Kharif or crop. It covers one third of total cultivated area of India. It provides food to more than half of the Indian population.

Rice is produced in almost all states. Top three producer states are West Bengal, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Other rice growing states include Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam and Maharashtra. It is also grown in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat and Kashmir Valley.

Wheat:

Wheat is the second most important crop of India after Rice. It’s a Rabi Crop. It is the staple food in north and north western India. It’s a winter crop and needs low temperature. Ideal temperature for wheat cultivation is between 10-15°C at the time of sowing and 21-26°C at the time of harvesting. Wheat thrives well in less than 100 cm and more than 75 cm rainfall. The most suitable soil for cultivation of wheat is well drained fertile loamy soil and clayey soil. Plain areas are most suitable. The wheat crop is highly mechanization oriented and may need less labour. Top three states producing Wheat are Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana.

 Coarse Cereals / Millets

Coarse Cereals and Millets are the short duration warm weather (Kharif) crops used both as food and fodder. Important millets are Jawar, Bajra, Ragi etc. The areas under these crops have fallen drastically in recent years in India. The coarse cereals and millets are grown in areas with high temperature and are called dryland crops because can be grown in areas with 50-100 cm rainfall.  The coarse cereal crops are less sensitive to soil deficiencies. They can be grown in inferior alluvial or loamy soil. Top three states with maximum production of total coarse cereals are Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Rajasthan.

Pulses

Most pulses are leguminous crops and provide proteins to the vegetarian population.   Major pulses of India include Gram, Tur or arhar (Pigeon Pea or Red Gram),  urd (black gram),  mung (green gram), masur (lentil),  kulthi (horse gram), matar (peas) etc.  But among these above mentioned varieties only gram and tur or arhar are more important pulses.

Cash Crops

India’s Sugarcane Production

Sugarcane belongs to bamboo family of plants and is indigenous to South Asia. In India, it is one of the most important Kharif crops. More information on Sugarcane Production in India is available here

Cotton

Cotton is the most important fibre crop and cotton seed is used as a vegetable oil and a part of fodder for milch cattle for better milk production. Cotton is a Kharif Crop and grows in tropical and subtropical areas. Cotton requires modest rainfall and in India, it is one of the predominant rainfed crops. Cotton requires uniformly high temperature (21°C to 30°C). It grows in areas having at least 210 frost free days in a year.
Optimum soil for cotton is the Black soils of Deccan and Malwa plateau. Also grows well in alluvial soils of the Satluj-Ganga plain and red and laterite soils of the peninsular region. Cotton growing is known as less mechanised farming in India so needs cheap labour.  Main cotton producing states are Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

Groundnut

Groundnut is most important oil seeds of India. Grown as both as kharif and Rabi crop but 90-95% of the total area is devoted to kharif crop. Groundnut thrives best in the tropical climate and requires 20°C to 30°C temperature. 50-75 cm rainfall is favourable for groundnut cultivation.

Groundnut is highly susceptible to frost, drought, continuous rain and stagnant water. It needs dry winder at the time of ripening.  Well drained light sandy loams, red, yellow and black soils are well suited for its cultivation.

Ground nit accounts for half of the major oilseeds produced in India. India is the second largest producer of groundnut (After China).  Top three states producing ground nut are Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Plantation Crops

Tea

India is the largest producer and consumer of black tea in the world. Tea is grown in 16 states in India. Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala account for about 95 per cent of total tea production. More information about tea production in India can be obtained from this link.

Coffee

Coffee needs hot and humid climate with temperature varying between 15°C and 28°C. It is generally grown under shady trees. Strong sun shine, high temperature above 30°C, frost and snowfall are harmful for coffee cultivation.  Dry weather is necessary at the time of ripening of berries. Rainfall between 150 to 250 cm is favourable for coffee cultivation. Well drained, rich friable loamy soil with humus and minerals are ideal for coffee cultivation. Coffee also needs cheap and skilled labour.  Major coffee producing states of India are Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. More information about Coffee production in India can be obtained from this link.

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