Major Cropping Seasons in India - Types and Importance for UPSC (2023)

In India, the majority of people work in agriculture and related industries. Some of the important crops farmed in the nation include different kinds of food and fiber crops, vegetables and fruits, spices and sauces, etc. In terms of GDP, agriculture contributes about 18%.

There are three crop seasons in India: Kharif, Rabi, and Zaid. Among these three, the monsoon-available Kharif and Rabi are two crucial seasons. A brief period known as the Zaid season occurs throughout the summer months between the rabi and kharif seasons.

This topic will come up in both the Prelims and Mains General Studies-I paper in UPSC Exam. Register for UPSC Online Classes at an affordable price through the UPSC CSE Coaching platform to boost your IAS preparation.

Also know about High Yield Crops here

(Video) Major Crops of India - Rabi, Kharif, Zaid crops | Indian Agriculture, Geography

Different Types of Cropping Seasons in India

When it comes to arable land, India is ranked second in the world. India produces enormous amounts of the following crops, to mention a few, on its 394.6 million acres of agricultural land:

  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Sugarcane, and Cotton
  • Vegetables and Fruits of different sorts
  • Maize

Study in detail about Crops in India here!

Facts about Three Cropping Seasons in India

Every crop has unique planting, harvesting, and processing procedures. However, each crop can be distinguished genetically based on the crop season. There are three main crop seasons in India:

  • Kharif
  • Rabi
  • Zaid

Kharif Crops

  • It's interesting to note that the Arabic word "Kharif" means "fall," which perfectly describes the crop season for Kharif crops. Kharif crops, often referred to as monsoon crop season in India, are planted at the beginning of the monsoon season and harvested at its conclusion.
  • Depending on the crop, this time frame often falls between May and October, give or take a couple of months.
  • Kharif crops include maize, rice, sugarcane, cotton, groundnuts, and turmeric, to name a few. For them to grow well, there must be plenty of water and heat. Kharif crops are well-known in states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Assam. For instance, West Bengal, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Bihar are the main growing regions for rice, a Kharif crop.

Rabi Crops

  • Well after the wet season, in October or the middle of November, rabi crops are planted. Depending on the type of crop, the harvest occurs in April or May. The Arabic word for spring is "Rabi." They go by the name "winter crops."
  • India cultivates a variety of Rabi crops, including wheat, mustard, barley, peas, chickpeas, cumin, fennel, coriander, and gram. State leaders in Rabi crop production include Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
  • Punjab and Haryana are the next-largest producers of wheat after Uttar Pradesh.

Zaid Crops

  • The Zaid crops love the summertime! The crops between Rabi and Kharif are commonly referred to as "filler" crops. The crops are typically sown in March and harvested in June. Despite the short growing season, Zaid crops need warm, dry weather in order to grow and mature.
  • Zaid crops also assist farmers in profiting from crops like cucumbers, pumpkins, and many types of melons. Most of these seasonal fruits are grown in India's Gangetic regions. Zaid crops also include fodder crops.
  • The Kharif, Rabi, and Zaid crops' growth cycle and productivity are governed by factors other than the monsoon. The crop's health and field productivity are also impacted by the timing, volume, and length of rainfall. The crops are also impacted by the soil. Millets and cotton can be cultivated on alluvial soils whereas rice and wheat require loamy and clayey soil.
  • Finally, prices also have an impact on farmers' revenue levels. Additionally, the Indian government releases the minimum support prices (MSP) for all commodities. For example, the MSP for wheat increased from 1,400 per quintal in 2013–2014 to 2,015 per quintal in 2022.

Read More here Rabi and Kharif Crops.

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Types of Kharif Crops in India

Crops grown during the Kharif season include rice, bajra, groundnuts, cotton, etc.


  • In India, maize is a significant grain crop. It needs temperatures between 210 and 270 C and a minimum of 50 to 75 cm of precipitation. Karnataka is the state that produces the most maize in India. The six basic types of maize are sweet corn, popcorn, dent corn, flint corn, and pod corn.
  • Sweet corn varieties are grown for human consumption as kernels, whereas field corn varieties are used for animal feed, different corn-based human food uses, and chemical feedstocks. Maize is also used to make ethanol and other biofuels.
  • The majority of India's rice is produced in West Bengal.


  • The most typical crop grown during the Kharif crop season in India is rice. India comes in second to China in terms of global rice output with 20%. It is one of the most significant agricultural crops in the nation and a common ingredient in Indian cuisine.
  • Rice needs an average temperature of 250 C and 100 cm of rainfall to grow in areas with high levels of precipitation. The crop is typically produced on rice paddy fields that are submerged in water.
  • India is the greatest producer of rice in West Bengal.

Also read about Crop Diversification

Types of Rabi Crops in India

Wheat, mustard, barley, green peas, sunflowers, coriander, cumin, and other common examples of key rabi crops grown in Rabi crop season in India are listed below.


  • Wheat production accounts for a sizable amount of India's agricultural income. The country is the world's second-largest producer of this crop.
  • Winter is the best time of year to cultivate wheat since it needs cold temperatures to grow. The ideal temperature range should be between 140 and 180 C with 50 to 90 cm of rainfall. When the weather is a little warmer in the spring, the crop is harvested.
  • Punjab and Haryana are the two states that produce the most wheat in India, with Uttar Pradesh coming in second.


  • Another Rabi crop that is frequently utilized in Indian homes for cooking is mustard. It needs a subtropical climate that is dry and cool to flourish, and the ideal temperature range is between 100 and 250C. Again, Uttar Pradesh is the state that produces the most mustard in the nation, accounting for 60% of the overall production, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Read more about Agricultural Pricing and Crop Insurance

(Video) L6: Indian Agriculture| Cropping Pattern and Types of Crops- Rabi, Kharif and Zaid| Kinjal Choudhary

Types of Zaid Crops in India

  • Zaid crops are any of a variety of crops that are grown during the brief period between the Kharif and Rabi crop seasons in India. These months are March through July. mainly during March and June. The "zaid crop season," when these crops are largely grown, occurs in the summer.
  • For the majority of their growing season, they require warm, dry circumstances. They also require longer day lengths for flowering. The zaid crop season falls in between the rabi and kharif crop seasons in India. Working in the summer and during the wet season is essential. Additionally, these plants mature quickly.
  • Pumpkin, cucumber, bitter gourd, watermelon, and other zaid crops are examples.


  • The gigantic edible fruit of the watermelon, a berry with a hard exterior and no internal divisions and called botanically as a pepo, is grown in a variety of climates around the world, from tropical to temperate.
  • Although there are varieties with seedless flesh, the rich, juicy flesh is typically deep crimson to pink and has a lot of black seeds.
  • The fruit can be eaten fresh or pickled, and the rind can be cooked and consumed. Additionally, it can be sipped as juice or included in a cocktail.

Major Cropping Seasons in India - Types and Importance for UPSC (1)

Also, read some important Agricultural Facts here!

Importance of Agriculture for UPSC Prelims

The output of agriculture, which ranges from the production of raw materials to a contribution to the global supply chain and economic growth, is a crucial factor in why it is significant to business and society.

Making Available Raw Materials

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  • Raw materials are a foundational aspect of the global economy. Without access to raw materials, producers cannot create products.
  • Non-agricultural raw materials include coal, steel, and minerals. But, a lot of essential components, like the herbs that give food flavor and the wood for construction materials, come from agriculture.
  • For instance, corn is a source of ethanol fuel and is used to manufacture meals. Another example is resins, which are plant-based compounds used in many industrial applications like paints, varnishes, and adhesives for building.

Creating a Stable Supply Chain

  • As agricultural products are imported and exported, they must be transported using methods like trucking, rail, and ocean freight.
  • Delays in agricultural goods shipping from a port in Los Angeles to China and vice versa may have an effect on the global supply chain.

Support for Economic Expansion

  • Agriculture affects global trade because of its links to other economic sectors that foster job creation and economic progress. According to USAID, countries with thriving agricultural sectors experience increases in employment across all sectors of the economy.
  • Since producers in these nations innovate through technology and farm management practices to boost agricultural productivity and profitability, countries with strong agricultural infrastructure and rising agricultural productivity also have greater per capita incomes.


Agriculture is very important in India and in its geography and 49% of the population of India is dependent on agriculture. It also contributes to the distribution of income and 14% of the GDP to the country. In the total geographical area 141 million hectares is the net sown area and 195 million hectares is the gross sown cropped area in crops seasons in India.

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