The two major cropping seasons of India are Kharif season and Rabi season which are monsoon dependent. There is a short season between Rabi and Kharif season which is called Zaid(Zayid) Season. The crops grown in these seasons are related to the availability of water and the amount of daylight. Kharif and Rabi Season are dependent on Monsoon rains. The agricultural crops produced in India are seasonal in nature and highly dependent on the monsoons. Zaid is not dependent on Monsoon.
The names Kharif and Rabi are taken from the Arabic language where Kharif means Autumn and Rabi means Spring. The cropping seasons are majorly to point out the right time to sow and raise a particular crop.
Sowing in June – July, Harvested in September – October
Kharif season begins with the first rains of the monsoon season. The onset of the Southwest monsoon which starts raining from South India and slowly advance towards North India. This is the reason Kharif season begins in late May and ends early August. The sowing dates vary from region to region depending on the first rain.
Kharif crops are dependent on the quantity of rainwater. Also the timing interval between the rains. For example, Paddy (Rice) requires a lot of water, so more rain is required. But on the other hand Maize(Corn) requires less rain. Too much or too little it will directly affect the whole year Kharif crop planning. Depending on the region and their rainfall history, experienced farmers can predict what to be sown.
Kharif crops should be sown with the beginning for the first rains. Most of the Indian farmers are small landowners, and they depend primarily on rains. The Monsoons play a major role in the sowing of Kharif season. If the rains are too low then they fail or if it is too much for the region again it affects the crops.
Kharif crops: Rice(Paddy), Maize, Groundnut, cotton, Soybean, Pigeon Pea(arhar), Mung bean, Red chilies, Sugarcane, Turmeric, Millets like Ragi, Jowar, Bajra
Rabi Season or Rabi harvest
Sowing in Winter(October-November), Harvested in Spring (March – April)
Rabi season is also called a Rabi harvest. In Rabi Season we consider harvesting month, not the sowing month. The Rabi crops are harvested in the springtime hence the name. Generally, sowing starts between October-November or when the monsoon rains stop completely. The word Rabi is derived from Arabic for “Spring”. So the Rabi harvest is done in the spring season.
Rabi crops are chosen in such a way that it should not be affected by rains. Since the monsoon rains stop, the available water is utilized for sowing and harvest.
A very good rain is good for Kharif crops but bad for Rabi crops. Rabi crops grow on irrigation water or just the percolated water from rains.
Rabi Crops: Wheat, Chickpea, mustard, linseed, oats, barley, Sesame, Peas, Sunflower, Coriander, Onion, Potato, Tomato, alfalfa, cumin, mustard, fenugreek, fennel
Sowing and Harvest – March to June
Zaid season is a short season in the month of March to June.
Zaid crops are monsoon independent. Zaid crops depend only on the irrigation water and do not have to wait for monsoons. We can say the Zaid season is summer (in India). Zaid crops require a lot of sun and warm weather. Also, it should not rain during Zaid Season. Zaid crop is mostly a summer crop in India.
Zaid Crops (Zayid) -Vines like Cucumber, watermelon, Muskmelon, bitter gourd, pumpkin, ridged gourd.
Difference between Rabi and Kharif crops
The key differences between Rabi and Kharif crops are illustrated below in the comparison table:
|COMPARISON||KHARIF CROPS||RABI CROPS|
|Meaning||Kharif in Arabic means Autumn. Crops that are sown with the beginning of monsoon rain are Kharif crops.||Rabi in Arabic means Spring. Crops that are harvested in the Spring season are Rabi Crops. Rabi crops are sown right after the end of monsoon.|
|Crops||Rice(Paddy), Maize, Groundnut, cotton, Soybean, Pigeon pea(arhar), Mung bean, Red chilies, Sugarcane, Turmeric, Millets||Wheat, Chickpea, mustard, linseed, oats, barley, Sesame, Peas, Sunflower, Coriander, Onion, Potato, Tomato, alfalfa, cumin, mustard, fenugreek, fennel|
|Sowing month||June – July||October – November|
|Harvesting month||September – October||March – April|
|Key Demand||Kharif crops require a lot of water and warm weather to grow.||Rabi crops require warm weather for seed germination but cold winters to grow.|
|Flowering||Require shorter day length||Require longer day length|
What are Kharif(short-day plants) and Rabi crops(long-day plants)?
The science behind the Kharif and Rabi crops is very simple. As we explained earlier it is based on Monsoon, so what is the relation with Monsoon and crops. It is not just rain, Kharif and Rabi crops even depend on the Sunlight/Darkness during the season. The term called Photoperiodism means plants respond to darkness and light differently. Based on multiple tests, it is proved that the amount of darkness that determined when the plants bloom and how many blooms are produced.
Kharif crops require shorter days but longer nights. Kharif crops are called as short-day plants. The flowers bloom in the month of September-October where the days are shorter. Sun will rise late and Sunset is too early. So the uninterrupted darkness allows Kharif crops flowers to bloom.
Rabi crops require less darkness( longer day). Rabi crops are called as long-day plants. The flowers bloom in the month of March- April where the days are longer. Sunrise is early and Sunset is late, which makes night smaller. So the less amount of darkness allows Rabi crops flowers to bloom.
Below are the Kharif and Rabi crops list along with Zaid crops. The crops list mainly suitable for Indian regions during Kharif and Rabi seasons.
Examples of Kharif crops
The Kharif crops include Paddy, Maize, Bajra, Jowar, Ragi, Pigeon pea, Green gram, Black gram, Soybean, Sesame, Guar(Clustebean), Cowpea, Groundnut, Castor, Cotton, Sugarcane, Turmeric, Chilly, Bitter gourd, Bottle gourd, Sponge gourd, Brinjal, Okra, Tomato, Fennel.
Examples of Rabi crops
The Rabi crops include Wheat, Barley, Chickpea, Linseed, Mustard, Oat, Isabgol, Alfalfa, Cumin, Coriander, Fenugreek, Carrot, Onion, Tomato, Potato, Pea, Sunflower.
Examples of Zaid crops
The Zaid crops include Watermelon, Muskmelon, Bitter gourd, Pumpkin, Cucumber, Ridge gourd.
The Changing Seasons
Due to the effect of global warming, the timing of Monsoon rains is being changed. Also, the intensity of rains has increased. Some dry areas which never saw rain for years are experiencing floods. Our illogical farming practices are also playing a major role in Global warming.
Every farm should take responsibility to fix the global problem. We need to practice Natural Farming. Stop using Chemical Pesticides and Fertilizers. Our groundwater is polluted. Let us pledge in Chemical Free farming. Have at least 10% of the farm converted to Forestry. More trees will not only help your farm in various ways but also helps in fixing the air around.
Natural Farming doesn’t require a lot of changes, it expects your involvement way less than you expected. Learn simple practices of Natural Farming. Know more about What is natural farming? Practice Natural farming with great responsibility and concern towards your family & the world around you.