04 Jul, 2023
With its various climate and agricultural environment, India has a long history of farming crops that correspond to particular seasons. In India, the agricultural calendar is divided into two seasons known as "Rabi crop season " and "Kharif crop season."
As a skilled farmer, it's important to understand the difference between the Rabi and Kharif crop seasons because each season has its own set of possibilities and difficulties.
In this article, we will look at the Rabi season and Kharif seasons in India, along with crops that are commonly grown during each season. So, let's get started.
Based on the climatic conditions and crops grown in those seasons, India has two main crop seasons which are the Kharif crop season and the Rabi crop season. Let’s understand these seasons in detail.
Often known as monsoon crop season, Kharif crop season is the time of year when farmers plant and harvest crops that can thrive in the rainy season.
The Kharif season usually starts with the arrival of the southwest monsoon, which supplies plenty of rain to the region. This season in India begins around June and lasts until September or October. Water availability during this period enables the growth of a variety of crops that thrive in damp and warm environments.
The Rabi crop season in India refers to the period when farmers cultivate and harvest specific crops that need a cooler environment for proper growth and sustainability.
The Rabi season mainly starts in October or November and extends until March or April. Some main weather conditions of this season are cooler temperatures, lower rainfall, and longer daylight hours. The term "Rabi" comes from the Arabic word for spring, as the crops grown during this season mature and are harvested in the springtime. The Rabi crops are mainly planted in the plains and cooler regions of India.
Now that the basic meaning of India’s main crop seasons is clear, it’s time to learn about the crops that are grown during these seasons.
Rabi crops also known as Winter crops are grown during the winter season or Rabi farming seasons that typically start in October and March. Rabi crops require less water to grow. Therefore, they can easily grow with the help of routine water irrigation to flourish. Types of Rabi crops include Wheat, Barley, Pulses, Gram, and more. Moreover, farmers also sow seeds of Mustard, Cumin, Sunflower, Rapeseed, and more during the rabi season.
Rabi Crops Example: Some examples of rabi crops grown in India are wheat, mustard, barley, green peas, sunflower, coriander, cumin, etc.
A large amount of agricultural income for India comes through the production of wheat and it's also a most common rabi crop example. India is the second-largest producer of this wheat crop in the world.
Wheat requires low temperatures to grow, thus winter is the suitable season for farming this Rabi crop. The ideal temperature range should be around 140 to 180 C with a rainfall of 50 cm to 90cms. The crop is harvested in spring when the temperature is slightly warm.
In India, Uttar Pradesh is the largest wheat-producing state which is closely followed by Punjab and Haryana.
This crop is typically cultivated from October to December in various Indian states, depending on the climatic conditions, and harvested around February to May, again depending on the climate and the time of sowing. Wheat has become a successful rabi crop thanks to technological improvements in soil preparation and seed placement at planting time, crop rotation and fertilizer use to increase plant growth, and advances in harvesting processes.
Another significant rise in productivity happened when seed drills replaced broadcast seeding.
The word Kharif is also an Arabic term that means ‘Autumn’ and the Kharif crops are mainly harvested in this season (September or October). kharif crops are also known as monsoon crops as they are sowed in monsoons. Moreover, they grow well in rain-fed areas with hot and humid climates.
Also, they are highly dependent on rainfall patterns. The amount and timings of rain are the two most important parameters to determine the output of the Kharif crop. These crops are harvested at the end of the monsoon season, and their seeds are sowed at the start of the monsoon season.
However, the Kharif crop season in India differs from state to state. The general period of sowing begins from June till November depending on the area. The sowing season differs according to the arrival of monsoons in different parts of India. For example, in southern states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Kharif crops seeds are generally seeded towards the end of May, whereas in northern regions like Punjab and Haryana, seeds are planted around June.
Kharif crops Examples: Some examples of Kharif crops are rice, bajra, groundnut, cotton, pulses, maize, oilseeds, etc.
Rice is the most common Kharif crop example in India. Plus, India produces 20% of the world’s rice production, second to China. It is one of the most important crops in the country.
Rice mainly grows in regions with heavy rainfall or requires rainfall of more than 100 cm and an average temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Moreover, this kharif crop is traditionally grown in waterlogged rice paddy fields. As all these climatic conditions are well met in West Bengal, it is the largest rice-producing state in India.
Rice is a Kharif-season crop farmed in many Indian states, with West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab ranking first, second, and third, respectively, in rice production. Rice is grown in other states such as Orisha, Assam, Karnataka, and many others.
Rice can be grown at great altitudes and with climatic variations, and it can be cultivated as high as three thousand mm because it grows in hot, humid climates.
Rice is best suited to places with plentiful water supplies. Clayey or loamy soils with a high water retention capacity are used to grow them.
Kharif crops require warm temperatures.
Rabi crops are grown in cool temperatures.
The ideal farming season for these crops is early summer and mid-summer. Perfect months for these crops are mid-May or the beginning of monsoons.
These crops are generally cultivated in the months of October to December as the temperature during these months is low.
Kharif crops generally have more water requirements. The roots of these crops have to be submerged in water for optimal growth.
Rabi crops don’t require too much water supply.
Kharif crops has a short harvesting duration. This is why farmers have two harvests of many crops in one farming season.
As compared to Kharif crops, the crop growth cycle of Rabi crops is longer. Most of the rabi crops only yield one harvest per season.
The ideal geographical regions for these crops are plains and topical parts of India.
Rabi crops are mostly grown in hilly areas of Northern India as temperatures in these regions are cooler than in the rest of India.
Maize, Cotton, Rice, Jowar, and Groundnut
Barley, Peas, Wheat, Oilseeds, and Gram
The majority of field crops rely solely on the weather to provide life-sustaining water and energy. The comfort and food supplies of livestock are also dependent on the weather. Adverse weather/climatic conditions can occasionally result in less productivity, especially if they occur during the maturity stages.
Because of the warmer spring climate, farmers can sow the first crop (winter barley) earlier than usual, allowing them to cultivate the second crop (rapeseed) for the remainder of the season, improving soil fertility and income.
The availability of sufficient water and fertile soil (soil deposition is driven by water transportation) is another limiting factor of cropland growth in the area, therefore agricultural expansion and intensification are currently confined to a specific distance from main river systems.
Agriculture is one such industry that is highly influenced by multiple factors. Above, we explained the impact of seasons on crops and their production. However, more factors play a crucial role in crop production across India. Let’s review them quickly.
Genetics and hereditary: Genetics and hereditary processes used in the crop production process have a great role to play in the quality and quantity of the harvested crop. Different crop varieties or cultivars possess distinct genetic traits that affect factors such as yield, disease resistance, drought tolerance, and maturity period. Plant breeding and genetic engineering techniques are employed to develop improved crop varieties with desirable traits.
Hormonal Regulation: Plants do have hormones and hormones like auxins, gibberellins, cytokinins, abscisic acid, and ethylene, which play crucial roles in regulating various aspects of plant growth and development. They all are crucial for regulating seed germination, root and shoot growth, flowering, fruit development, and senescence. Plants having hormonal imbalances will have delayed production.
Climatic conditions: Climatic conditions like temperature, atmospheric pressures or humidity, precipitation, gasses, or wind velocity are all responsible for affecting the production of the crop.
Biotic factors: biotic factors are beneficial and harmful too as they are caused by living organisms that are plants and animals.
Physiographic conditions: Light and wind exposure: a mountain slope exposed to low light intensity and strong dry winds may provide poor agricultural yields (coastal areas and interior pockets)
Socio-economic conditions: Appropriate crop selection by humans to meet the food and fodder needs of agricultural households.
India’s economy is mainly driven by agriculture and a huge part of its population is actively engaged in farming. With strategic planning and the use of modern technology, Indian farmers are taking care of domestic and international footing requirements.
The Indian agriculture industry is heavily influenced by the diverse climatic conditions and farmers need to be aware of the crops that are perfect for each season. Kharif crop season and Rabi crop season are two major seasons in India and crops grown during these seasons have different requirements.
Indian farmers are privileged enough to have a wide range of crops suitable for different crop seasons. They cultivate crops that can thrive in specific climatic conditions and make a decent living.
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