What are the different cropping patterns ?


Cropping pattern means the proportion of area under various crops at a point in time. This is, however, a dynamic concept as it changes over space and time.

A broad picture of the major cropping patterns in India is presented by taking the major crops into consideration. With such an approach, the crop occupying the highest percentage of the sown area of the region is taken as the base crop and all other possible alternative crops which are sown in the region either as substitutes of the base crop in the same season or as the crops which fit in the rotation in the subsequent season, are considered in the pattern.

Also, these crops have been identified as associating themselves with a particular type of agro-climate, and certain other minor crops with similar requirements are grouped in one category. For example, wheat, barley and oats, are taken as one category.

Certain other crops, such as the plantation crops and other industrial crops are discussed separately. Among the Kharif crops, rice, jowar, bajra, maize, groundnut and cotton are the prominent crops to be considered the base crops for describing the kharif cropping patterns. Among the rabi crops, wheat, gram and sorghum or jowar are considered the base crops for explaining the rabi cropping pattern.


Crops under this category include sugarcane, tobacco, potato, jute, tea, coffee, coconut, rubber and other crops, such as spices and condiments. Some of them are seasonal, some annual and some perennial. Generally, the areas occupied by them are very limited as compared with food and other crops. Nevertheless, they are important commercially. Most of them require specific environmental conditions and from the point of view of cropping patterns, they are concentrated in some particular regions. Besides, certain horticultural crops, such as apple, mango and citrus, are important.

In several sugarcane-growing areas, mono-cropping is practiced, and during the interval between the crops, short duration seasonal crops are grown. In U.P., Bihar, Punjab and Haryana, wheat and maize are the rotation crops, rice is also grown in some areas. In the southern states, namely Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, ragi, rice and pulses are grown along with sugarcane. In Maharashtra, pulses, jowar and cotton are grown.

In the potato-growing region, maize, pulses, wheat are the alternative crops. In the tobacco growing areas, depending on the season and the type of tobacco, jowar, oilseeds and maize are grown in rotation. In the jute-growing areas, rice is the usual alternative crop.

In the case of plantation-crops, intercropping with pulses and fodder crops is common. Spices and condiments are generally grown on fertile soils. Chillies are rotated with jowar, whereas onion, coriander, turmeric and ginger are grown as mixed crops with other seasonal crops.


Crops mixtures are widely grown, especially during the kharif season. Pulses and some oilseeds are grown with maize, jowar and bajra. Lowland rice is invariably grown unmixed, but in the case of upland rice, several mixtures are prevalent in eastern Uttar Pradesh, with Chotanagpur division of Bihar and in the Chhatisgarh division of Madhya Pradesh. During the rabi season, especially in the unirrigated area of the north, wheat and barley and wheat and gram or wheat + barley + gram are the mixtures of grain crops. Brassica and safflower are grown mixed with a gram or even with wheat. Mixed cropping was considered by researchers a primitive practice, but now many researchers regard mixed cropping as the most efficient way of using the land. Several new mixtures have recently been suggested. They ensure an efficient utilization of sunshine and land. Breeders are developing plant types in pulses and oilseeds, with good compatibility with row crops.

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