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Different types of Agriculture crops

There can be many ways to divide the types of crops (based on area, season, economic value etc.). 

Based on seasons, 
the crops  are divided into three types; Rabi, Kharif and Zaid.

Kharif Crops

  • Sown in June-July when rains first begin (Monsoon crop).
  • Harvested in September-October.
  • Requires lot of water and hot weather to grow.
  • Example: Rice, Jowar, Bajra, Maize, Cotton, Groundnut, Jute, Sugarcane, Turmeric, Pulses (like Urad Dal) etc.

Rabi Crops

  • Sown in October-November
  • Harvested in April-May.
  • Requires warm climate for germination of seeds and maturation and cold climate for the growth.
  • Example: Wheat, Oat, Gram, Pea, Barley, Potato, Tomato, Onion, Oil seeds (like Rapeseed, Sunflower, Sesame, Mustard) etc.

Zaid Crops

  • Grown between March-June between Rabi and Kharif crop seasons.
  • Early maturing crops.
  • Example: Cucumber, Bitter Gourd, Pumpkin, Watermelon, Muskmelon, Moong Dal etc.

Categories of Crops in India

The major crops can all be divided into four main categories depending on their usage.
  1. Food Crops (Wheat, Maize, Rice, Millets and Pulses etc.)
  2. Cash Crops (Sugarcane, Tobacco, Cotton, Jute and Oilseeds etc.)
  3. Plantation Crops (Coffee, Coconut, Tea, and Rubber etc.)
  4. Horticulture crops (Fruits and Vegetables)

Major Crops in India

Now let us look at the major crops in India in detail.


Rice is a tropical crop that can be grown almost throughout the year. It depends on atmospheric moisture and rainfall for irrigation. The traditional rice fields are known as paddy fields and require to be flooded with 10-12 cm deep water in the early stages.
Type of Crop: Kharif
Techniques Used: Transplantation technique, Japanese Transplantation technique, new SRI technique
Varieties: Aman, Sali, Afghani, Aus, Boro, Palua
Temperature: ∼ 24 0C
Rainfall: ∼ 150 cm
Soil type: Clay/ Loamy


 It is a Rabi crop. It is more flexible in terms of climactic and other conditions of growth.
Type of Crop: Rabi
Varieties: Kalyan Sona, Sonalika, Heera
Temperature: 17-20 °C
Rainfall: 20-100 cm (ideal ~75 cm)
Soil Type: Clay loam, Sandy loam

Cotton is a tropical and subtropical Kharif crop. It is a fibre crop and is known as ‘White gold’. It is a dry crop but roots need timely supply of water at maturity.
Type of Crop: Kharif
Varieties: Long Staple, Medium Staple, Short Staple
Temperature: 21-30 °C
Rainfall: 50-100 cm
Soil Type: Black soil (Highly water retentive soil)


Jute is a tropical plant that requires hot and humid climate. It is one of the most important natural fibres in terms of cultivation and usage. Almost 85% of the world’s jute is cultivated in the Ganges Delta.
Type of Crop: Zaid
Varieties: White Jute, Tossa Jute
Temperature: 24-35 °C.
Annual Rainfall: 125-200 cm.
Soil Type: Sandy and Clay Loam


Sugarcane is an important cash crop. Sugarcane crop requires long rainy season of at least 7-8 months.  Sugarcane are of sub-tropical variety and so have low sugar content. Tropical Variety and coastal areas hence have high sugar content and high yield.
Type of Crop: Kharif, Rabi
 20-26 °C
Rainfall: 75-150 cm
Soil type: Clayey Loamy Soil/ Black Cotton Soil/ Red Loamy Soil/ Brown Loamy Soil


Tea is an evergreen plant that mainly grows in tropical and subtropical climates. Tea is a labour intensive crop . It grows faster under light shade. Tea plants require high rainfall but its roots cannot tolerate water logging. Hence, it requires sloppy areas.
Temperature: 20-30 °C
Rainfall: 150-300 cm
Soil type: Loamy soil which is acidic in nature and rich in organic matter.


Coffees are grown in shade and commonly with two tiers of shade. Growing altitudes of coffee range between 1,000 to 1,500 m above sea level for Arabica (premier coffee), and 500 to 1,000 m for Robusta (lower quality). Both varieties are planted in well-drained soil conditions that favour rich organic matter. Coffee plantation is done along hilly slope. Slopes of Arabica tend to be gentle to moderate, while Robusta slopes are gentle to fairly level.
Varieties: Arabica and Robusta
Temperature: 16-28°C
Rainfall: 150-250 cm
Soil type: Well-drained forest loam


Cardamom (Queen of Aromatic Spices) 
Pepper (King of Spices) 

Temperature: 10-30 °C
Rainfall: 200-300 cm
Soil type: Loamy soil/ Lateritic soil
Location: 1000-2000m altitude of  hilly areas

As per usage:

a. Food crops:
Crops that are grown for human consumption
Crops: Rice, Wheat, Maize, Millets, jowar, bajra, barley, mower, Pulses and Oil seeds
b. Commercial Crops:
Crops grown for commercial purpose either in raw form or semi processed form. These crops are the backbone of the Indian Agriculture from an economic perspective.
Crops:sugarcane, cotton, rubber, jute, tea, coffee, silk, tobacco, oilseeds like groundnut, mustard and rapeseed

Based on Ontogeny (Life cycle)

a. Annual crops:
1. Crop plants that complete life cycle within a season or year.
2. They produce seed and die within the season.
Crops: Wheat, rice, maize, mustard etc.
b. Biennial crops:
1. Plants that have life span of two consecutive seasons or years.
2. First years/ season, these plants have purely vegetative growth usually confined to rosette of leaves. The tap root is often fleshy and serves as a food storage organ. During the second year / season, they produce flower stocks from the crown and after producing seeds the plants die.
Crops: Sugar beet, beet root, etc.

c. Perennial crops:

1. They live for three or more years.
2. They may be seed bearing or non-seed bearing.
Crops: Napier fodder grass, coconut, etc.

Based on climatic condition

1. Tropical crop : Coconut, sugarcane
2. Sub-tropical crop : Rice, cotton
3. Temperate crop : Wheat, barley
4. Polar crop : All pines, pasture grasses

Based economic use (Agronomic)

1. Cereals
2. Millets
Major millets
Sorghum /Jowar
Pearl millet /Bajra
Finger millet or Ragi
Minor millets
Foxtail millet
Little millet
Common Millet
Barnyard millet
Kodo millet
3. Pulses:
Red gram
Black gram
Green gram
Peas or gardenpea
Garden bean
4. Oil seeds:
Groundnut or peanut
Sesame or gingelly
Castor –
Linseed or flax –
Niger –
Safflower –
Rapeseed & Mustard – Brown or Indian Mustard
5. Sugarcrops
Sugar cane
Sugar beet

Other Categorizations:

Plantation Crops:
Crops grown on plantation having large estates.
Crops: Tea, Coffee, Coconut and Rubber
Fibre crops:
Plants grown for obtaining fibre.
Different kinds of fibre are:
i) seed fibre – cotton;
ii) Stem/ bast fibre – Jute, mesta;
iii) leaf fibre – Agave, pineapple
Fodder / Forage:
It refers to vegetative matter, fresh or preserved, utilized as feed for animals. It includes hay, silage, pasturage and fodder.