Classification of Crops

An Indian female farmer holding the Rice thash
Classification of Crops

Classification is a way to group and generalize similar crop plants as a class for better productivity and economic benefits.

The crops can be classified in the following ways

1. Range
(a) Garden crops are grown on a small scale in gardens; for example, brocoli, peas, onion, brinjal.
(b) Plantation crops are grown on a large scale in estates; for example, tea, coffee, rubber.
(c) Field crops are grown on a vast scale in a large field. These are mainly seasonal crops such as rice, wheat, cotton.

2. Origin
(a) Native crops are grown within the geographical limits of their origin; for example, rice, barely, black gram, green gram, mustard, castor, sugarcane and cotton.
(b) Exotic crops are introduced from other countries such as tobacco, maize, apple, pineapple.

3. Cropping Season
(a) Kharif crops: Also known as monsoon crops, usually grown during June–July to September–October and require warm wet weather during their growth period and shorter days for flowering such as rice, maize, and groundnut.
(b) Rabi crops: These are post monsoon crops grown during October–November to January–February, require cold dry weather for their major growth period and longer day length for flowering, for example, wheat, mustard, barley, oats, potato, and cabbage.
(c) Zaid crops: These crops are also known as summer or intermediary crops, which are grown during February–March to May–June and requires warm dry weather for growth and longer day–length for flowering. for example, black gram, green gram, sesame, and cowpea.

This is not a universal classification. This is actually introduced by Mughals in the later 15th century. The word Kharif and Rabi are Arabic words. Moreover, Kharif means autumn whereas Rabi means spring.

4. Topography
(i) Upland crops: which can grow on high altitudes such as red gram, groundnut, potato, upland rice.
(ii) Lowland crops: which require abundant water and can withstand prolonged waterlogged conditions. For example, rice and jute.

5. Source of water
(i) Irrigated crops: depend upon irrigation water for a part of the growth period of the crop.
(ii) Rainfed crops: do not require irrigation water and entirely depend upon the rainfall received.

6. Duration of crops
(i) Very short duration crops: grow within 75 days, for examples, pulses
(ii) Short duration crops: grow in between 75 and 100 days, for examples, sunflower, cauliflower, upland rice
(iii) Medium duration crops: require 100 to 125 days to grow, for example, wheat, jowar, bajra, groundnut, sesame, jute
(iv) Long duration crops: require 125 to 150 days to grow, for example, mustard, tobacco, cotton
(v) Very long duration crops: need more than 150 days to grow, for example, sugarcane, red gram, castor.

7. Commerciality
(a) Food crops: Rice, wheat, green gram, soybean, groundnut
(b) Food cum forage crops: All fodders crops, maize, oats, jowar
(c) Industrial crops: Cotton, sugarcane, sugarbeet, tobacco
(d) Food adjuvants: Turmeric, garlic, cumin

8. Use
(a) Cereals: used as a staple food – rice, wheat, maize, barley, oats
(b) Millets: used as the main source of energy in drier regions. There are two types of Millets.
Major - Sorghum (Jowar), Pearl Millet, Ragi.
Minor - Foxtail millet, little millet, common millet, barnyard millet and Kodo millet
(c) Oilseeds: yield to seeds rich in oils (fatty acids) - groundnut, sesamum, sunflower, castor, linseed, niger seed, safflower, mustard
(d) Pulses: whose seeds are used as food - black gram, Bengal gram, cowpea, dew gram, green gram, horse gram, soybean, peas red gram, and garden-bean.
(e) Forage: used as feed for animals - bajra, desmanthus, guinea grass, fodder-maize, napier grass
(f) Fibre: grown for their fibre yield - cotton, jute, mesta, agave, pineapple.
(g) Sugar and starch crops: grown for production of sugar and starch - sugarcane, sugar beet, potato, sweet potato and tapioca.
(h) Spices and condiments: used to season, flavour, taste, and add colour to the fresh or preserved food - ginger, garlic, fenugreek, cumin, turmeric, chillies, onion, coriander, anise and asafetida.
(i) Medicinal plants: used for preparation of medicines - tobacco, mint, carom, lemongrass.
(j) Narcotics: Used for stimulating numbing effect - tobacco, ganja, opium poppy.
(k) Beverages: Used for preparation of drinking beverages - tea, coffee, cocoa.

9. Ontogeny
Ontogeny refers to the study of the lifecycle of an organism. Here, one can classify plants on the basis of the life cycle of a plant.
(a) Annual crops: which complete their life cycle within a season or year. These crops produce seed and die within the season. For example, wheat, rice, and mustard.
(b) Biennial crops: which have a life span of two consecutive seasons. In the first season, these plants have vegetative growth confined to rosettes, and their tap root works as a food storage organ. During the second season, they produce flower stocks from the crown and after producing seeds the plants die. For example, sugar beet, beetroot, cabbage, radish, carrot.
(c) Perennial crops: live for at least three years. For example, sugarcane, napier grass.

10. Botanical (Scientific) Classification
(a) Amaryllidaceae: Onion, chive, garlic
(b) Asteraceae: Sunflower, lettuce, artichokes, safflower, niger seeds
(c) Cruciferae: Mustard, rapeseed, cabbage, cauliflower
(d) Chenopodiaceae: Spinach, sugarbeet
(e) Convolvulaceae: Sweet potato, water spinach (kalmi saag)
(f) Cucurbitaceae: Gourds, cucumber, pumpkin, squashes
(g) Euphorbiaceae: Castor, cassava, tapioca
(h) Malvaceae: Cotton, okra
(i) Pedaliaceae: Sesame
(j) Papilionaceae (Legumes): Pulses, legume fodders, vegetables, groundnut
(k) Poaceae (Gramineae): Cereals, millets, grasses
(l) Solanaceae: Potato, tomato, eggplants, bell peppers
(m) Tiliaceae: Jute
(n) Umbelliferae: Corriander, cumin, fennel, parsley, carrot
(o) Zingiberaceae: Ginger, cardamom, turmeric

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