The cropping seasons are majorly bifurcated into 3 broad divisions – Rabi season, Kharif season and Zaid season
India is an agriculture-based country. The kind of festivals that we celebrate are also dependent on the harvesting season. We love to celebrate the successful harvest of our crops. Also, food is seen as pious in Indian culture. It is a sin to touch food grains with your feet as it is a disrespect to Maa Annapurna, who is the provider of food and nourishment. In a country like this, cropping seasons become all the more important because the beginning and the conclusion of each season is marked by festivities, pomp and celebrations. This is one of the major reasons why we should get to know our cropping seasons, what all is grown during them in which parts of the country and how does the year-long harvest in India work. So, here is a short guide to the cropping seasons in India.
The cropping seasons are majorly bifurcated into 3 broad divisions – Rabi season, Kharif season and Zaid season. Initially, only rabi and kharif were acknowledged as the main seasons, but that has come to change in recent years, where zaid has gained equal importance as the other two. Let us take a look at all three of them one by one.
The winter cropping season is called the Rabi season, where the seeds are sown in peak winter between October and December. The harvesting time for rabi crops is between April and May, sometimes even June. Although the word rabi means rain, it is known as the winter cropping due to the time and seasonality of these crops. The crops during rabi are grown with the monsoon water that is collected or through irrigation channels. Winter showers are extremely detrimental for rabi crops. Most important crops grown during Rabi season are barley, grams, mustard, oats, banana, lady fingers, mangoes, tomatoes, lemon, onion, cabbage, spinach and potatoes.
Kharif crops are the most highly produced crops, which account for the maximum production in the country. It is also known as the wet summer cropping season. These crop seeds are sown right after monsoon, in the months of June and July. The harvesting of kharif crops takes place in between the months of September and October. They are known as the rain crops because they need extremely high amounts of water for growth and only Indian monsoons can provide that. Some of the major crops grown during kharif season are rice or paddy, jowar, maize, soybean, millets, sugar-cane, ground nuts, orange, bottle gourd, brinjal and turmeric.
The reason zaid was not really counted as a main cropping season was because it fell between kharif and rabi. This cropping season is also called the dry summer cropping season. The crops are sown, irrigated and harvested between the months of March to May and mostly, crops that do not require a lot of water are grown during this season. Whatever little water is in fact required, is provided through external irrigation methods as that is the peak dry summer time in India. These crops mature early and need longer daytime hours for proper growth. Some of the major crops grown during Zaid season are cucumbers, water melon, musk melon, strawberries, fodder crops, cluster beans, bitter gourd and pumpkin.
All these three cropping seasons together fulfill the need of our nation along with giving us surplus to export some of these crops to other countries. Festivals like makar sankranti, baisakhi, lohri, guri parwa and pongal are celebrated to mark the harvesting seasons. In a country where fod grains are worshipped and food is seen as a symbol of health, wealth and nourishment, the cropping seasons become extremely important for the farmers, who are the producers and the rest of the country, who are eager consumers.