Decoding Cropping Seasons in India: Everything you Need to Know

12 Sep, 2023

Cropping seasons in India are periods when specific crops are grown. India is geographically a vast country with varied temperature and rainfall conditions.2/3rd of India’s population dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. It has various food and non-food crops cultivated in 3 main cropping seasons– rabi, kharif, and zaid–which define the cropping season in India.

Major food and cash crops of India

Some of the major crops grown in India can be classified into-

Food crops:  Food crops are cultivated mainly for human consumption. They are essential for meeting dietary needs of the people. 

  • Wheat
  • Millets
  • Rice
  • Pulses
  • Maize

Cash crops: Cash crops are primarily grown for sale in the market. They are sold to industries that process them into various products.

  • Oilseeds
  • Horticulture crops
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Rubber
  • Cotton
  • Sugarcane

Cropping patterns in India

Cropping patterns in India vary according to different climates, landscapes, and farming methods . They decide when and which crops are grown each year.

Let’s decode the 3 cropping season in India

S. No Cropping Season Sowing Season Harvesting Season Crops States
1 Rabi October-December April-June Wheat, barley, peas, mustard, gram. Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh.
2 Kharif June-July Sep-Oct Rice, Jowar, Maize, bajra, tur, moong, urad, cotton, jute, groundnut, soybean. West Bengal, Assam, coastal Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra.
3 Zaid March-July March-July Seasonal fruits, vegetables, fodder crops. Most of the northern and northwestern states.

Major Crops grown in India:


Rice, a major crop in India, constitutes a fundamental dietary staple for the majority of the Indian population. India holds the position of the second-largest producer of rice in the world. In states like Assam, West Bengal and Odisha, three crops of paddy are grown in a year: Aus, Aman, and Boro.

Sowing time of rice: June-July

Harvesting time of rice: September-October

Climate: Requires temperatures between 22-32°C with elevated humidity levels.

Precipitation: About 150-300 cm.

Soil: Flourishes in deep clayey and loamy soil.

Leading Rice Cultivating States: West Bengal > Punjab > Uttar Pradesh > Andhra Pradesh > Bihar.


India ranks as the second-largest wheat producer globally, after China.

In North and Northwest India, wheat holds significance as the second most crucial cereal and a primary food crop. The use of HYV seeds during the time of green revolution has significantly resulted in surplus production of rabi crops, particularly wheat.

Sowing season in India of wheat: October to December

Harvesting season in India of wheat: February to May

Climate: Thrives in temperatures of 10-15°C (during sowing) and 21-26°C (ripening & harvesting), accompanied by ample sunlight.

Precipitation: Around 75-100 cm.

Soil: Flourishes in well-drained fertile loamy and clayey loamy soil, notably in the Ganga-Satluj plains and Deccan’s black soil regions.

Foremost Wheat Cultivating States: Uttar Pradesh > Punjab > Madhya Pradesh > Haryana > Rajasthan.


Cropping season in India differs for different types of millets.

Jowar (Sorghum):

Sowing season in India: June to July (Kharif season)

Harvesting season in India: September to October (Kharif season)

Bajra (Pearl Millet):

Sowing season in India: June to July (Kharif season)

Harvesting season in India: September to October (Kharif season)

Ragi (Finger Millet):

Sowing season in India: Depending on the region, Ragi can be sown in different seasons – typically Kharif, Rabi, and Zaid.

Harvesting season in India: Depends on sowing season

Climate: Flourishes in temperatures of 27-32°C.

Precipitation: About 50-100 cm.

Soil: Can thrive in less ideal alluvial or loamy soil due to their resilience to soil deficiencies.

Jowar: Flourishes in rain-fed conditions, prevalent in moist areas with minimal irrigation.

Bajra: Grown in sandy and shallow black soils.

Ragi: Grown in black, red, sandy, loamy, and shallow black soils, predominantly in dry regions.

Leading Millets Cultivating States: Rajasthan > Karnataka > Maharashtra > Madhya Pradesh > Uttar Pradesh.

Jowar: Maharashtra > Karnataka > Madhya Pradesh > Tamil Nadu > Andhra Pradesh.

Bajra: Rajasthan > Uttar Pradesh > Gujarat > Madhya Pradesh > Haryana.

Jowar ranks as the third most significant food crop concerning both area and production.


India stands as the 7th-largest maize producer globally.

Maize serves both as a food source and fodder. The adoption of modern techniques including High-Yielding Variety seeds, irrigation, and fertilizers has contributed to surplus maize production.

Sowing and harvesting season in India: Maize can be grown in all seasons – Kharif , post monsoon, Rabi and spring

Climate: Flourishes in temperatures of 21-27°C.

Rainfall: Prefers high rainfall.

Soil: Flourishes in old alluvial soil.

Foremost Maize Cultivating States: Karnataka > Maharashtra > Madhya Pradesh > Tamil Nadu > Telangana.


India is the largest producer and consumer of pulses in the world.Pulses play a vital role as a protein source in vegetarian diets.Pulses grown in India include tur (arhar), moong, urad, masur, peas, gram, etc.

Cropping season in India varies for different types of pulses grown.

Chickpea (Gram):

Sowing season in India: October to December

Harvesting season in India: February to April

Pigeon Pea (Arhar / Toor):

Sowing season in India: June to August

Harvesting season in India: November to January

Green Gram (Moong):

Sowing season in India: June to July (Kharif season), September to October (Rabi season)

Harvesting season in India: September to October (Kharif), December to January (Rabi)

Black Gram (Urad):

Sowing season in India: June to July (Kharif), September to October (Rabi)

Harvesting season in India: October to November (Kharif), January to February (Rabi)

Red Lentil (Masur):

Sowing season in India: October to November

Harvesting season in India: February to April

Climate: Flourishes in temperatures of 20-27°C.

Precipitation: About 25-60 cm.

Soil: Flourishes in sandy-loamy soil.

Leading Pulses Cultivating States: Madhya Pradesh > Rajasthan > Maharashtra > Uttar Pradesh > Karnataka.


The three distinct cropping seasons in India – Rabi, Kharif, and Zaid – form the backbone of the nation’s agricultural calendar, each characterized by its unique set of crops and climatic conditions. The major crops grown in India, ranging from staple food items like rice and wheat to the nutrient-rich millets and essential pulses, underline the country’s ability to cater to a diverse set of nutritional needs.


1. Does a crop have the same cropping season across India?

No, a crop does not have the same cropping season across India. The cropping seasons in India generally vary due to the country’s diverse climatic conditions, geographical features, and regional variations. As a result, the sowing and harvesting times for minor and major crops in India can vary widely from one region to another.

Let’s understand by example. In the Kharif season (rainy season), rice is sown around June-July and harvested around September-October. However, in states like Tamil Nadu, sowing of rice takes place around November-December.

2. How has irrigation changed the cropping patterns in India?

Irrigation has transformed India’s cropping patterns by enabling:

  1. Year-round cultivation
  2. diversification of crops
  3. Reduced reliance on monsoon rains.

Now, Farmers can grow 3-4 crops a year, all thanks to irrigation and the green revolution in India.

However, still around 60 of India’s agricultural land remains rainfed. The irrigation facility hasn’t reached most of the areas in India.

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