Part 2 | Important Food Crops (Rice, Wheat, Maize, Millets, Pulses and Barley) and Horticultural Crops

Important Food Crops

1. Rice:

  • Geographical Conditions of Growth:
    • Rice grows best in areas of warm, humid climate; rice requires temperatures between 20°C and 35°C and a well-distributed rainfall of about 100 cm or irrigation facilities.
    • Fertile soil. Delta and valley soils are the most suitable. Soils with higher clay content are preferred for its cultivation due to their better moisture retention capacity.
  • Important Producing Areas:
    • West Bengal (highest producer), Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab (highest per hectare yield), Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Haryana.
    • About 25% of the arable land is used for the cultivation of rice.
  • On the basis of climatic conditions, three varieties of rice are found in India:
    • Winter/ Agahani/ Aman – Planted in July-August and harvested in October-December. 86% of the total rice cultivation comes under this variety.
    • Autumnal/ Kuari/Aus – Sown in May-June and harvested in September – October.
    • Summer/Boro – It is sown in November – December and harvested in March-April. It is grown on 1% of the total rice area.

Note: All the above mentioned 3 varieties (aman, aus, boro) are grown in West Bengal and Assam.

  • Important varieties: IR-8, Jaya, Padma, Hamsa, Krishna, Sabarmati, and IET 1039.
  • India is the 2nd largest producer in the world after China.

2. Wheat

  • Geographical Conditions of Growth:
    • It is a crop of temperate climate. The ideal temperature for its cultivation is about 15°-20°C and requires a moderate amount of rainfall of 25-75 cms. It can be grown in the drier areas with the help of irrigation.
    • Well drained loamy and clayey soils are ideal.
  • Important Producing Areas:
    • Wheat is cultivated on about 14% of the total arable area of the country.
    • There are two important wheat producing zones in the country – the Ganga-Satluj plains in the north-west and the black soil region in the Deccan.
    • In north India, wheat is sown in October – November and harvested in March – April. In south India, it is sown in September-October and harvested in December – January. Wheat takes lesser time in ripening in south India than that in the north because of hotter climatic conditions in the south.
    • Uttar Pradesh (highest producer), Punjab (highest yield per hectare), Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttarakhand.
  • Important varieties: Sonalika, Kalyan, Sona, Sabarmati, Lerma, Roso, Heera, Shera, Sonara-64.

3. Maize

  • Geographical Conditions of Growth:
    • It is a crop of semi-arid climate and is used both as food and fodder.
    • A temperature of 21°C- 27°C and 50-100cm rainfall is suitable for its cultivation.
    • Alternate spells of rains and sunny weather are ideal for maize.
    • It is a Kharif Crop but in some states like Bihar, it is grown in the rabi season also.
    • It grows well in alluvial and red soils with good drainage. It can also be grown in mountainous soils.
  • Important Producing Areas:
    • It is grown on 3.6% of the total sown area in the country.
    • Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh are important maize producing states.
  • Important Varieties: Sartaz, Ganga, Deccan-103, Deccan-105, Dhawal, Prabhat, Arun, Kiran etc.

4. Millets:

Jowar, Bajra and Ragi are the important millets grown in India. Though these are known as coarse grains, these have high nutritional value. These are grown on 16.5% of the total sown area in the country.

  1. Bajra
    • Geographical Conditions of Growth:
      • It thrives in areas of warm, dry climate.
      • It requires an annual rainfall of 45cm and temperature ranging between 25 to 30°C.
      • It grows well on sandy soils and shallow black soil.
    • Important Producing Areas:
      • Rajasthan is the largest producer of bajra followed by Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana.
  2. Jowar
    • Geographical Conditions of Growth:
      • It is a rainfed crop mostly grown in moist areas which hardly needs irrigation.
      • This crop requires moderate rainfall of 30-100cms and high temperatures ranging from 20 to 32°C.
      • Both excessive moisture and prolonged drought are harmful.
      • Well drained light soils are ideal.
    • Important Producing Areas:
      • It is the third most important food crop with respect to area and production.
      • It is cultivated as the major food crop in semi-arid areas of the central and south India.
      • In north India, Jowar is mainly a Kharif crop whereas it is sown as both Kharif and Rabi in the southern states.
      • Maharashtra is the largest producer of jowar followed by Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
      • India is the largest producer of jowar in the world.
  3. Ragi
    • Ragi is very rich in iron, calcium, other micro-nutrients and roughage.
    • Geographical Conditions of Growth: It is a crop of dry regions and grows well on red, black, sandy, loamy and shallow black soils.
    • Important Producing Areas: Karnataka is the largest producer of Ragi followed by Tamil Nadu. Other states important for the production of ragi are Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Sikkim, Jharkhand and Arunachal Pradesh.

4. Pulses

  • Major pulses that are grown in India: tur, urad, moong, masur, peas and gram.
  • Chief Characteristics:
    1. India is the largest producer as well as consumer of pulses in the world. About 20% of the pulses of the world are produced here.
    2. These are the major sources of protein in a vegetarian diet.
    3. Being leguminous crops, all the above-mentioned pulses (except tur) help in restoring soil fertility by fixing nitrogen from the air. Therefore these crops are mostly grown in rotation with other crops.
  • Geographical Conditions of Growth:
    1. Pulses need less moisture and survive even in dry conditions
  • Important Producing Areas: The major pulse producing areas are Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka. It is grown on about 11% of the total sown area in India.

5. Barley

  • Geographical Conditions of Growth:
    • This is grown mainly as a dry crop.
    • This is the crop grown in the wheat producing area on the poor soil and in area of lower precipitation.
    • Although the geographical conditions required for its cultivation are similar to those for wheat, it has more tolerance for adverse environmental conditions.
  • Important Producing Areas: The major producers are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

Horticultural Crops (Fruits, Vegetables, Flowers etc.)

  • The contribution of horticulture in the total agricultural produce of the country is 30.4% (Year 2012-13)
  • Fruits:
    • India produces 10% of the total fruit production in the world and is the second largest producer of fruits in the world.
    • India is the largest producer of mango, banana, cashew, cheekoo, and lemon in the word.
    • India produces both tropical and temperate fruits.
  • Vegetables:
    • India is the second largest producer of vegetables in the world and produces about 13% of the world’s vegetables.
    • India is an important producer of potato, pea, cauliflower, onion, cabbage, tomoato and brinjal.
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