Decoding Cropping Seasons in India: Everything you Need to Know

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.

India’s Rice Export Ban Shock Global Markets

India is the world’s second-largest producer of rice, and the largest exporter of rice in the world. According to preliminary estimates, India’s rice export during FY23 summed up to $11.14 billion, encompassing both basmati rice export ($5 billion) and non-basmati rice export ($6.14 billion).

India’s recent ban on non-basmati rice export  has sent waves worldwide, particularly affecting Asia and Africa. In a recent announcement from the commerce ministry, India has additionally placed restrictions on exporting basmati rice contracts valued below $1200 per tonne.

What happened?

India, the largest exporter of rice in the world, recently stopped exporting non-basmati rice on July 20. The decision was made to control rising food prices within the country and make sure there’s enough rice available at reasonable costs for its own citizens. India contributes more than 40 to the global rice trade.

Why non-basmati rice export ban matters

This export ban on non-basmati rice is expected to affect millions of people, with the most significant impact felt by consumers in Asia and Africa. Countries like Malaysia and Singapore heavily rely on Indian rice imports. The ban is a response to the high demand for rice within India itself.

Who’s affected with rice export ban

Countries like Malaysia and Singapore are particularly vulnerable due to their substantial reliance on Indian rice imports. The rice export ban could also lead to higher global rice prices, affecting places like the Philippines where rice is a major part of the cost of living calculation. However, much of Southeast Asia’s rice imports come from Vietnam, helping to buffer the impact.

Potential consequences of ban on rice export

Rice prices are already at their highest in a decade, with factors like El Nino affecting production in other major rice-producing countries like Thailand, Pakistan, and Vietnam. If other significant rice-exporting countries impose their own export restrictions, and major rice-importing nations start stockpiling, it could create chaos in the rice market, potentially even worse than a similar situation in 2007.

India’s stance on non-basmati rice export ban

The ban on non-basmati rice exports isn’t new for India. However, this time, it’s expected to have a wider-reaching impact. It’s unlikely the ban will be lifted soon, possibly staying in place until India’s general elections in April of the following year. This decision is a response to India’s own internal inflation and political considerations.

Potential future impact of rice export ban

Inflation is rising in India due to increased food prices. If rice shipments decrease, it could have a global effect on prices, even affecting commodities like wheat, which can be a substitute for rice. Unpredictable weather events could further strain crop production, adding to potential price increases.

Current rules in Basmati rice exports

The Indian govt. imposes restrictions on basmati rice export below $1200/tonne in order to prevent potential “unauthorized” shipments of non-basmati rice disguised as basmati rice.

“It has been noticed that despite restrictions on certain varieties, rice exports have been high during the current year. Upto 17th August 2023, total exports of rice (other than broken rice, export of which is prohibited) were 7.33 MMT compared to 6.37 MMT during the corresponding period of previous year, registering an increase of 15.06 per cent,” the commerce ministry said.


India’s rice export ban is causing a disruption in global rice markets, impacting not only rice prices but also the economies of various nations, particularly those heavily reliant on Indian rice imports. The situation could continue to develop, leading to potential consequences for global food prices and trade.

Unveiling the World of Rice Exports from India: Everything You Need to Know

It is a known fact that India is the world’s second-largest producer of rice, and the largest exporter of rice in the world. According to preliminary estimates, India shipped $11.14 billion in rice during FY23, including basmati ($5 billion) and non-basmati ($6.14 billion).

The demand usually comes from Asian, African and European countries. With each upcoming and new harvest, the demand of rice exports from India is spiking to new heights every day.

But “How” did it all start?

Apart from being a staple food that was consumed by Indians and other countries, the actual production and profit-based trade of rice started in the Colonial Period. Under the Zamindari System, rice became a commercial product with a demanding market in British colonies and markets.

The Green Revolution began in India in the 1960s with the aim of improving food production. 

The adoption of modern techniques, including the cultivation of high-yielding rice varieties, the implementation of efficient irrigation systems, and the utilization of fertilizers and pesticides, has greatly contributed to a substantial rise in India’s rice production.

In the 1990s, the government put out rules and policies for foreign trade. It also gave farmers and exporters a variety of incentives, financial and trading help, and made the whole process less complicated.

Rice Production in India and Current Market Trends

A lot of mixed interpretations are being done by analysts regarding the situation of India in the rice export market for the year 2024. A certain decline is expected due to heavy export duty on the overall Non-Basmati variety. These might motivate the competitors like Vietnam, Thailand or Pakistan to rise up to the occasion and take the title of “Lead Exporter” of rice from India.

In recent times, increased demand for Indian rice from the North American and European regions, as well as favorable climatic circumstances, have backed the rise of the Indian rice export. The timely onset of rainfall is a primary  driver of high rise affairs. 

This also leads to more advanced productivity than in other Asian nations  similar to Thailand and Indonesia, where erratic downfall causes cataracts and failure. West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, and Bihar are the top states for rice production in India.

Basmati Rice Exports from India

Basmati is one the premium varieties of rice that is grown in Himalayan region in the Indian subcontinent. It has a distinct exquisite flavour and is quite often referred to as “Biryani wale Chawal” among the Indian cuisine. What makes it so in demand is the soft, non-sticky fluffy texture with its own aroma and in turn increasing Basmati rice export from India. Basmati is found in various types: 1509, 1121, 1401, PUSA (D.B.), 1718, and so on.

The country has exported 3,948,161.03 MT of Basmati Rice to the world for the worth of Rs. 26,416.49 Crores/ 3,540.40 US$ Mill.) during the year 2021-22.

Non-Basmati Rice Exports from India

Non-Basmati rice comes in all kinds; short, long, slender, beads, round, etc. Out of 10,000 varieties of Non-Basmati Rice, maximum are produced in India due to the rich geographical factors. The major export destinations for Non-Basmati rice export from India are countries like Nepal, Africa, Senegal, Bangladesh.

India is home to different types of Non-basmati rice varieties. These include Matta, Chinigura, Ponni, Idly, Sona masoori, PR-11, IR-64, Jaya, Surti Kolam, Jeerakshala, etc.

The country has exported 17,262,235.10 MT of Non-Basmati Rice to the world for the worth of Rs. 45,652.36 Crores/ 6,124.27 USD Millions during the year 2021-22.

The Trail of Rice Exports in Last 10 Years

The last decade has seen a complete evolution and change in the rice-exporting industry. The graph has witnessed both highs and lows. A few of them are highlighted here.

2013: India emerges as a global leader in the rice export industry.

2014-2015: India faces a decline in rice export business due to intense competition and a decrease in international prices.

2016-2017: Export-promoting councils are established and policies implemented to bolster rice exports, leading to a resurgence in India’s trade activities.

2018: The Indian government introduces stricter measures for quality and quantity of rice to maintain its reputation in the international market.

2019: Despite challenges, including geographical factors and strict regulations imposed by other countries, India continues to thrive in rice exports.

COVID-19 Pandemic: Imports and exports worldwide come to a halt due to the pandemic.

Post COVID-19: The demand for rice increases globally as countries combat food scarcity caused by the pandemic. Now, the demand for rice remains steady with minimal fluctuations.

Major Rice Exporting Countries

While India holds a prominent position in the rice export market, it is important to note that several other countries are also performing well in this industry. Among the top global rice exporting nations, excluding India, are the following:


Thailand, known for its production of “Jasmine Rice” is a major exporter in the global rice market. In the past year, Thailand has exported around 21.9 million tonnes in the international market. The main destinations of rice exports from Thailand are: USA, South Africa, Benin and Hong Kong . Thailand serves Iraq, China and Cote d’Ivoire majorly.


White rice from Vietnam is an important food source as well as a key export crop for Vietnam. On average, Vietnam produces 40-46 million tonnes of white rice per year; in addition to domestic consumption, Vietnam white rice exports 25-28 million tonnes per year.


More than 60 of the rice produced in Pakistan is exported to foreign countries.


China is one the biggest exporter as well as importer of rice. In the past few years, China has imported a huge fraction of Indian rice.

Practice Adopted to Boost Rice Exports from India

In order to promote the continuous and lead supply of rice in the world, the Indian Government is undergoing thorough policy-revision. There’s a likely possibility that grain shipment restrictions will be lifted. Any situation of relaxing the export curb will cool off the benchmark prices. 

Other policies measures in favor are: 

  • Minimum Support Price – The farmer is given a minimum support price for their produce bought for export. This protects the farmer from exploitation plus makes a continuous supplier of rice.
  • Schemes on Export Promotion – A series of schemes are introduced and implemented by the Government that provides financial incentive, assistance to exporters and businessmen plus provide subsidies, as required. 
  • Trade Facilitation – In order for a seamless export procedure, the government has simplified the whole process by reducing trade barriers, diversifying markets, participation in trade fairs, expanding storage facilities and more.

Rice Supplier in India

India’s current rice production capacity not only satisfies the domestic demand but also facilitates substantial exports to international markets. This ability to meet both domestic and global requirements showcases the efficiency and scale of India’s rice industry. Combined, all of India’s rice exporters, including companies like EXPORA, have enough capacity to meet domestic demand and ship substantial quantities abroad.

However, finding dependable rice export companies in India who produce high-quality rice for import-export purposes can be a major difficulty in the global rice industry. Due to reasons such as a lack of knowledge, multiple supplier challenges, language hurdles, physical distance, and differences in business practices, locating such reliable rice suppliers in India can be challenging.

At EXPORA, we understand the importance of working closely with a network of trusted rice suppliers and manufacturers from all over India. As a leading rice export company in India, we guarantee a consistent supply of different rice varieties to cater to the diverse preferences of our customers worldwide. With our expertise and strong partnerships with reputable rice suppliers in India, we ensure reliable and top-notch rice exports from the country.


Indian rice exports have played a pivotal role in shaping the global rice trade. With its abundant production capacity, diverse range of rice varieties, and robust infrastructure, India has emerged as a key player in meeting both domestic demand and international markets. As India continues to strengthen its agricultural practices and explore new markets, its rice exports are poised to contribute significantly to the world’s food security while fostering economic growth.