Cropping Patterns and Major Crops of India

Cropping Patterns and Major Crops of India: A diversity of food and non-food crops are grown in various parts of the country depending upon several factors such as soil, climate and cultivation practices. Major crops grown in India are rice, wheat, millets, pulses, tea, coffee, sugarcane, oil seeds, cotton and jute, etc.

Cropping Patterns and Major Crops of India

Agricultural-related activity is one of the major economic activities in India and it accounts for 14% of India’s GDP. Two-thirds of the Indian population depends on agriculture for its sustenance. Climate, especially rainfall, controls agricultural activities. In the extremely hot and dry season, agricultural activities come almost to a grinding halt. 

Major crops can be classified into Four Categories-

  • Food crops - Crops that are used for human consumption: Rice, Wheat, Millets, Maize and Pulses.
  • Cash crops - Crops which are grown for sale either in raw form or in semi-processed form:  Sugarcane, Oilseeds, Horticulture crops, Tea, Coffee, Rubber, Cotton and Jute.
  • Plantation Crops - Crops which are grown on Plantations covering large estates: Tea, Coffee, Coconut and Rubber
  • Horticulture Crops - Sections of agriculture in which Fruits and Vegetables are grown: Fruits and Vegetables.

Depending upon soil types and climatic parameters, we have three agricultural seasons in India i.e Kharif, Rabi, and Zaid

  • The Kharif season started with the Southwest Monsoon (June to September) under which the crops such as Rice, Maize, Cotton, Jowar, Sugarcane, Groundnut, and Bajra are cultivated. 
  • The Rabi season starts with the onset of winter (October to March) and ends with the beginning of summers under which the crops such as Mustard, Wheat, Oat, Chickpea. 
  • Zaid season is a short duration summer cropping season (March to June) between rabi and Kharif season, generally lasting for 2-3 months.

Various Cropping Seasons in India:


Various Cropping Seasons in India

Kharif Cropping Season And Crops:

In India, this season starts from June to July with the onset of monsoon and ends with the withdrawal of monsoon in the mid of October-November. These crops are sown at the beginning of the first shower during the advent of the south-west monsoon season, sowing date varies from mid of may in southern states (Kerala) to July in northern states (Haryana). These crops generally require moderate to high temperatures with good amounts of rainfall. In the Kharif season, total food grains production is around 150.5 million tons in 2021. Rice, Millets, Maize, Groundnuts, Jute, Groundnut, Soya bean, Tea, Coffee, and Cotton are the major Kharif crops.

Rice 

Rice is the most important Kharif crop and major staple crop of India, which feeds more than 60 percent of the population. In India total area under rice cultivation is 39.43 lakh hectares in 2021 and produces around 122 million tons in 2021, which was only 34.58 million tons in 1960. It requires a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius and above and rainfall of more than 150 cm. So this crop is suitable for rain intense regions or the regions with perennial rivers and irrigation facilities. It requires flooded fields during the growing period. West Bengal is the largest producer of rice in India and accounts for 15% of total rice production which is around 15.75 million tons.

  • Rainfall: Around 150-300 cm.
  • Soil Type: Deep clayey and loamy soil.
  • Top Rice Producing States: West Bengal > Punjab > Uttar Pradesh > Andhra Pradesh > Bihar.
  • It is the staple food crop of majority of Indian people.
  • India is the second largest producer of rice in the world after China.
  • In states like Assam, West Bengal and Odisha, three crops of paddy are grown in a year. These are Aus, Aman and Boro.
  • National Food Security Mission, Hybrid Rice Seed Production and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana are few government initiatives to support rice cultivation.

Maize

Maize is the second most important Kharif crop in India. Total maize production in India is around 24.51 million metric tons. It is a cereal crop and accounts for approximately one-tenth of the total agricultural produce in India. It requires a temperature of 21 to 27 degrees Celsius and rainfall of 50-75 cm. Cultivation of maize is prominent in the regions of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana. Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh have the highest area under maize (15%).

  • Temperature: Between 21-27°C
  • Rainfall: High rainfall.
  • Soil Type: Old alluvial soil.
  • Top Maize Producing States: Karnataka > Maharashtra > Madhya Pradesh > Tamil Nadu > Telangana
  • India is the seventh largest producer worldwide.
  • It is used both as food and fodder.
  • Use of modern inputs such as High-Yielding Variety seeds, fertilizers and irrigation have contributed to the increasing production of maize.
  • Technology Mission on Maize is one of the government’s initiatives for mazie.

Cotton

India is the largest producer of cotton in the world accounting for more than 25% of the world cotton production. India produces about 6.05 million metric tons of cotton in 2020-21. It is a cash crop and used as a raw material for cotton textile industries. It requires a temperature of 20-30 degrees Celsius and 75-100 cm rainfall. Maharashtra is the largest producer of cotton in India.

Rabi Cropping Season and Crops
Rabi cropping season starts with the season of retreating monsoon and ends with the beginning of the summer season. These crops are sown in winter from October to December and harvested in summer from April to June and require a cool climate during the growth period but a warm climate during the germination of seed and maturation. Total rabi production in India is about 153.25 MMT in 2021. Rabi crops are grown in large parts of India, states such as Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh are major rabi crop-growing regions. Some of the major rabi crops are wheat, barley, gram, peas, mustard, oat, and rapeseed.
Wheat

Wheat is the second most important staple crop and favorite among the north Indians. The total area under wheat cultivation is about 34.5 million hectares and total production was over 109 million metric tons in 2021. India is the second-largest producer of wheat in the world after China. Wheat requires cool temperatures during its growing season in the range of 14 -18 degrees Celsius and rainfall of about 50-90 cm. Bright sunshine and slightly warmer weather are most suitable during the harvesting of wheat. India is highly dependent on wheat for its agricultural income. Uttar Pradesh is the largest wheat-growing state and alone produces more than 33 million metric tons, followed by Punjab and Haryana.

  • Temperature: Between 10-15°C (Sowing time) and 21-26°C (Ripening & Harvesting) with bright sunlight.
  • Rainfall: Around 75-100 cm.
  • Soil Type: Well-drained fertile loamy and clayey loamy (Ganga-Satluj plains and black soil region of the Deccan)
  • Top Wheat Producing States: Uttar Pradesh > Punjab > Madhya Pradesh > Haryana > Rajasthan.
  • India is the second largest producer after China.
  • This is the second most important cereal crop and the main food crop, in north and north-western India.
  • Success of Green Revolution contributed to the growth of Rabi crops especially wheat.
  • Macro Management Mode of Agriculture, National Food Security Mission and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana are few government initiatives to support wheat cultivation.

Mustard
Mustard is a commercial crop. India produces about 10 million tons of mustard in 2020-21. Oil extracted from mustard is edible and vastly used for cooking purposes in India. It requires dry and cool weather and the ideal temperature range for the growth of mustard is between 10 and  25 degrees Celsius. Rajasthan is the largest producer of mustard in India and accounts for 46 percent of total mustard cultivation, followed by Haryana.


Millets (Nutri-Cereals)

  • Temperature: Between 27-32°C
  • Rainfall: Around 50-100 cm.
  • Soil Type: Can be grown in inferior alluvial or loamy soil because they are less sensitive to soil deficiencies.
    • Jowar- Rain-fed crop grown in the moist areas with less or no irrigation.
    • Bajra- Sandy soils and shallow black soil.
    • Ragi- Red, black, sandy, loamy and shallow black soils. (dry regions)
  • Top Millets Producing States: Rajasthan > Karnataka > Maharashtra > Madhya Pradesh > Uttar Pradesh
  • Jowar: Maharashtra > Karnataka > Madhya Pradesh > Tamil Nadu > Andhra Pradesh.
  • Bajra: Rajasthan > Uttar Pradesh > Gujarat > Madhya Pradesh > Haryana.
  • These are also known as coarse grains, which have high nutritional value. Ragi is very rich in iron, calcium, other micro nutrients and roughage.
  • Jowar is the third most important food crop with respect to area and production.
  • National Agricultural Insurance Scheme, Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millets Promotion are examples of government’s efforts to support millet production.

Pulses
  • Temperature: Between 20-27°C
  • Rainfall: Around 25-60 cm.
  • Soil Type: Sandy-loamy soil.
  • Top Pulses Producing States: Madhya Pradesh > Rajasthan > Maharashtra > Uttar Pradesh > Karnataka.
  • India is the largest producer as well as the consumer of pulses in the world.
  • These are the major source of protein in a vegetarian diet.
  • Major pulses grown in India are tur (arhar), urad, moong, masur, peas and gram.
  • Being leguminous crops, all these crops except arhar help in restoring soil fertility by fixing nitrogen from the air. Therefore, these are mostly grown in rotation with other crops.
  • National Food Security Mission for Pulses, Pulses Development Scheme and Technological Mission on Pulses are few of the government’s plans to support pulses production.

Major Cash Crops

Sugarcane
  • Temperature: Between 21-27°C with hot and humid climate.
  • Rainfall: Around 75-100 cm.
  • Soil Type: Deep rich loamy soil.
  • Top Sugarcane Producing States: Uttar Pradesh > Maharashtra > Karnataka > Tamil Nadu > Bihar.
  • India is the second largest producer of sugarcane after Brazil.
  • It can be grown on all variety of soils ranging from sandy loam to clay loam given these soils should be well drained.
  • It needs manual labour from sowing to harvesting.
  • It is the main source of sugar, gur (jaggery), khandsari and molasses.
  • Scheme for Extending Financial Assistance to Sugar Undertakings (SEFASU) and National Policy on Biofuels are two of the government initiatives to support sugarcane production and sugar industry.

Oil Seeds
  • Temperature: Between 15-30°C
  • Rainfall: Around 30-75 cm.
  • Soil Type: Loam to clayey loam and well drained sandy loams.
  • Top Oilseeds Producing States: Madhya Pradesh > Rajasthan > Gujarat > Maharashtra > Uttar Pradesh.
  • Main oil-seeds produced in India are groundnut, mustard, coconut, sesamum (til), soyabean, castor seeds, cotton seeds, linseed and sunflower.
  • Most of these are edible and used as cooking mediums. However, some of these are also used as a raw material in the production of soap, cosmetics and ointments.
  • Yellow Revolution and Integrated Scheme on Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil Palm and Maize (ISOPOM) are examples of government initiatives for oilseeds.
Note:
  • Groundnut is a kharif crop and accounts for about half of the major oilseeds produced in the country.
  • Linseed and mustard are rabi crops.
  • Sesamum is a kharif crop in north and rabi crop in south India.
  • Castor seed is grown both as rabi and kharif crop.

Plantation Crops

Tea
  • Temperature: Between 20-30°C
  • Rainfall: Around 150-300 cm.
  • Soil Type: Deep and fertile well-drained soil, rich in humus and organic matter.
  • Top Tea Producing States: Assam > West Bengal > Tamil Nadu.
  • India is the second largest producer of tea.
  • It was introduced in the eastern hill slopes of India by the British.
  • Slopes of eastern hills have humid climate and evenly distributed rainfall without water logging which are optimal conditions for terrace farming of tea.
  • Tea is a labour intensive industry. It requires abundant, cheap and skilled labour. Tea is processed within the tea garden to retain its freshness.
  • Tea Development and Promotion Scheme, Wage Compensation Scheme and Tea Boutiques are few of the government schemes for tea.

Coffee
  • Temperature: Between 15-28°C
  • Rainfall: Around 150-250 cm.
  • Soil Type: Well drained, deep friable loamy soil.
  • Top Coffee Producing States: Karnataka > Kerala > Tamil Nadu.
  • India is the seventh largest producer.
  • Coffee was initially brought from Yemen and introduced on the Baba Budan Hills.
  • Hills with well-defined shade canopy, comprising evergreen leguminous trees provide the optimal condition for coffee cultivation that is why it is mainly concentrated in the hilly regions.
  • Indian variety of coffee ‘Arabica’ is famous worldwide.
  • Various Integrated Coffee Development Projects and schemes have been launched by the government to support coffee production.

Rubber
  • Temperature: Above 25°C with moist and humid climate.
  • Rainfall: More than 200 cm.
  • Soil Type: Rich well drained alluvial soil.
  • Top Rubber Producing States: Kerala > Tamil Nadu > Karnataka.
  • It is an equatorial crop, but under special conditions, it is also grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas.
  • Rubber is an important industrial raw material.
  • Rubber Plantation Development Scheme and Rubber Group Planting Scheme are examples of government led initiatives for rubber.

Fibre Crops

Cotton
  • Temperature: Between 21-30°C
  • Rainfall: Around 50-100cm.
  • Soil Type: Well drained black cotton soil of Deccan Plateau.
  • Top Cotton Producing States: Gujarat > Maharashtra > Telangana > Andhra Pradesh > Rajasthan.
  • India is believed to be the original home of the cotton plant. Cotton is one of the main raw materials for cotton textile industry.
  • Cotton needs 210 frost-free days and bright sun-shine for its growth.
  • It is a kharif crop and requires 6 to 8 months to mature.
  • Silver Fibre Revolution and Technology Mission on Cotton are the government initiatives for increasing cotton production in India.
  • Cotton has been genetically modified into BT Cotton to fight environmental stress and pest attacks.

Jute
  • Temperature: Between 25-35°C
  • Rainfall: Around 150-250 cm
  • Soil Type: Well drained alluvial soil
  • Top Jute Producing States: West Bengal > Bihar > Assam > Andhra Pradesh > Odisha.
  • It is mainly concentrated in eastern India because of the rich alluvial soil of Ganga-Brahmaputra delta.
  • India is the largest producer of jute.
  • It is known as the golden fibre.
  • It is used in making gunny bags, mats, ropes, yarn, carpets and other artefacts.
  • Due to its high cost, it is losing market to synthetic fibres and packing materials, particularly nylon.
  • Golden Fibre Revolution and Technology Mission on Jute and Mesta are two of the government initiatives to boost jute production in India.

Zaid Cropping Season and Crops:

Zaid is a short season between Kharif and Rabi season in the months of March to July. These are dry summer season crops and require a very short period of time for their maturity. These crops are sown at the beginning of summer in Feb- March and harvested in April- June. Warm soil, high temperature, dry weather, and longer day length are required for flowering and fruiting of these crops. The total area under Zaid crops is 67.87 lakh hectares in 2021. Major Zaid crops are watermelon, pumpkin, cucumber, bitter gourd, and muskmelon. These crops are grown with the help of proper irrigation facilities. So states like Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu where irrigation facility is well developed are more suitable for these crops. In some areas, rice is also grown on irrigated land as a Zaid crop. Zaid crops provide extra income to farmers and act as a gap-filler between Rabi and Kharif cropping season.

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