Different crops have specific requirements, and they require suitable climatic conditions. Based on the climatic conditions, yields in the Indian subcontinent are classified into two categories, namely the Kharif crops and the Rabi crops.
Rabi and Kharif are the two cropping patterns adopted in many countries. They are dependent upon the monsoon. Kharif cropping season starts with the beginning of the monsoon, and it ends when the rainy season gets over. On the contrary, Rabi crops are grown in winter, i.e., sown when the monsoon ends and harvested before the advent of the summer season.
Here, we explore more about the Kharif crops and how they are grown.
What are Kharif Crops?
Kharif crops require hot and wet climates, whereas a cold and dry env is best suited for Rabi crops. Rainfall plays a very important role in the yield of the two different types of crops. Rain is suitable for Kharif crops, while the same may spoil the yield of Rabi crops.
In general, only a few people know the two agriculture patterns. However, knowing the difference between the Rabi and Kharif crops may help why some crops are available during specific time of the year. It becomes all the more important as the prices of food grains and vegetables highly depend on the yield of these two cropping patterns.
The crops sown in the rainy season are called Kharif crops. Many often know them as the summer or monsoon crop in the Indian subcontinent. On the other hand, the crops sown in the winter season are called Rabi crops or the “winter crop” in the region.
When is the Kharif Cropping Season?
The cropping season for Kharif starts with the onset of the monsoon in the Indian subcontinent. Kharif crops are sown at the start of the first monsoon rains depending on region to region. Harvesting season begins from the third week of September to October. Unlike the Rabi crops, Kharif crops require good rainfall. The output of Kharif crops depends upon the time and amount of rainwater received by the crops.
Paddy, Millet, Cotton, Ragi, Maize, Bajra, and Jowar are a few Kharif crops. The Kharif crops are associated with the season of monsoon. They are sown in June and July and are harvested in the autumn months, which means September and October. Monsoon rains begin as early as May in some parts of the Indian subcontinent.
Important Kharif Crops
The Kharif season varies by crop. It starts at the earliest in May and ends at the latest in January. In India, the Kharif season is considered to begin in June and end in October. Kharif crops are sown with the beginning of the first rains during the advent of the southwest monsoon season, and they are harvested at the end of the monsoon season ranging from October to November.
These Kharif crops are dependent on the quantity of rainwater and its timing. Too much, too little, or rain at the wrong time can waste the whole year’s efforts. Kharif crops stand in contrast to the Rabi crops cultivated during the dry season.
The southwest monsoon generally hits the subcontinent in June. Thanks to the late pick-up in rains, the cumulative rainfall for the season is usually average at 99 percent. Adequate rainfall and sowing of the crops during the right time give a better harvest. Moreover, higher water storage at leading reservoirs due to an excellent southwest monsoon often has a positive rub-off on the future Rabi season. Therefore, it is essential to know these two seasons and why they are essential for the crops.
Kharif Crops Example
Some of the Common Kharif crops are;
- Cereal crops – Maize (sweet corn), millet, rice, bajra, jowar, and soybean.
- Fruit crops – Sugarcane, Watermelon, Muskmelon, and Orange.
- Seed/Grain crops – Green gram (moong), groundnut, guar, moth bean, mung bean, arhar (tur), black gram (urad), cotton, cowpea (chavala),
- Sesame and urad bean.
- Vegetable crops – Bottle gourd, brinjal, bitter gourd, chili, ladyfingers, sponge gourd, tomato, turmeric, and french beans.
Why is it important?
Rice and wheat as you know are the staple crops of a country. Therefore, a good Kharif and Rabi harvest is critical to the country’s food security. You should be aware that wheat and rice account for 40 percent of the country’s food grain production.
Hence a good monsoon rainfall, especially during the southwest monsoon, is critical to the sowing and harvest of these crops.
What are Rabi Crops?
Rabi crops are sown in winter and harvested in the spring in India and Pakistan. The word “Rabi is derived from the Arabic word for “spring,” which is used in the Indian subcontinent, where the spring harvest is also referred to as the “winter crop.”
Rabi crops are winter crops, and they are grown in October or November. The Rabi crops are then harvested in spring. These crops need frequent irrigation because they are grown in dry areas. Wheat, mustard, gram, barley, peas, pulses, and rapeseed are some of the significant Rabi crops grown in India.
The crops are grown with rainwater percolated into the ground or using irrigation. In winter, a good amount of rain spoils the Rabi crops but is suitable for Kharif season crops. The major Rabi crop is wheat, followed by mustard, sesame, barley, and peas. The agriculture crops formed in the subcontinent are seasonal and highly dependent on these two monsoons.
Important Rabi crops
- Cereal crops – Mustard, Oat, Wheat, Barley, Gram, Rapeseed, and Bajra.
- Fruit crops – Dates, Grapes, Guava, Almond, Banana, Ber, Kinnow, Lemon/Citrus, Mandarin orange, Mangoes, Mulberries, and Orange.
- Legumes/lentils (dal) crops – Masoor, Mung Bean, Chickpea Kulthi, Tobias, Toria, Pigeon Pea, and Urad bean.
- Seed/Grain crops – Alfalfa, Isabgol, Sunflower, Bengal Gram, Coriander, Cumin, Fenugreek, Linseed Mustard, Red Gram.
- Vegetable crops – Cauliflowers, Chickpea, Fenugreek, Garlic, Ladyfinger, Lettuce, Beans, Beetroot, Brinjal, Broccoli, Cabbage, Capsicum, Carrot, Pea, Onion, Spinach, Sweet Potato, Tomato, Potato, Radish, and Turnip.
Differences Between Kharif and Rabi crops
Some of the critical differences between Kharif and Rabi crops are as follows;
- Kharif crops are affected by rainfall, as these plants require lots of water to grow. On the contrary, Rabi crops are not affected by the monsoon.
- Kharif crops are also called monsoon or autumn crops, whereas Rabi crops are spring or winter.
- Kharif crops are sown at the beginning of the rainy season, which means between April and May. While Rabi crops are the crops that are planted at the end of the monsoon or at the beginning of the winter season, e.g., between September and October.
- The favorable sowing season for the Kharif crops is June – July, while Rabi crops are sown in March and April
- The harvesting month of the Kharif crops in September and October, whereas Rabi crops are harvested in March and April.
- Kharif crops depend on rainfall patterns. While Rabi crops are not affected by the rainfall.
- Kharif crops need hot weather and a large quantity of water to grow. Rabi crops need a warm climate for seed germination and a cold environment for growth.
Weather Dependency of Rabi and Kharif Crops
- In the case of Kharif crops, wet and warm weather and shorter day lengths are favorable for flowering, whereas, in the case of Rabi crops, dry and cold weather and more extended day length are beneficial for flowering.
- Major Kharif crops are rice, cotton, jowar, maize, bajra, etc., whereas major Rabi crops are wheat, gram, peas, barley, etc.
- In Kharif, crops flowering requires a shorter day length. While Rabi crops flowering requires more extended day length.
- Kharif crops require a lot of water and hot weather, whereas rabi crops require warm weather for the seeds germination of seeds and a cold climate to grow.
- Kharif crops require warm wet weather at the time of growth and a shorter length of day for flowering. On the contrary, cold and dry weather is needed for growing rabi crops and longer day length for its flowering.
- Kharif crops are sown in June and July. Conversely, rabi crops are generally planted in October and November.
- Kharif crops are harvested in September and October, while the best time for harvesting Rabi crops is in March and April.
Rabi and Kharif crops are a method of differentiating the crops based on the sowing and growing time in the year. Apart from these two, one more type of crop is produced in the summer season, basically from March to June. It is known as Zaid crops.
Farmers cultivate Zaid crops for a short duration, primarily between the Rabi and Kharif seasons. You might have heard about watermelon, muskmelon, bitter gourd, cucumber, etc., which are categorized as these crops.
It is essential to understand that a good Kharif and Rabi season is critical to ensure food availability to feed the country’s growing population. Also, note that a weak monsoon and lower crop output might not benefit the farmers and the agro industry as a whole. Moreover, if you are an investor in agro stocks, keeping a close tab on the Rabi and Kharif season progression might be essential. Hence a robust rabi and Kharif crops season can bring cheers to all farmers, consumers, and investors in the agro space.