Rabi & Kharif Crops

Definition of Rabi Crop

Rabi crops are also referred to as Winter crops. They grow during the winter season which is between October and March. The term ‘Rabi’ means spring. Thus, as you know, the harvesting time for Rabi crops happens during the spring season. Unlike Kharif crops, Rabi crops do not need a lot of water. Thus, they make do with routine water irrigation in order to flourish.

 For instance, they include Wheat, Barley, Pulses, Gram, and more. In addition, farmers also sow seeds of Mustard, Cumin, Sunflower, Rapeseed, and more during this season.

Rabi Crops

Definition of Kharif Crop

Kharif Crops grow during the rainy season which is between June and October. Thus, we also refer to them as Monsoon crops. Unlike Rabi crops, these crops require water in abundance in order to grow. That is why the farmers sow them during the onset of monsoon. Consequently, they harvest them at the end of September or in October. However, these crops are totally dependent on the rainfall’s pattern and timing. Thus, some states sow them a bit early than other states depending on the arrival of monsoon.

For instance, Rice, Sugarcane, Cotton, Pulses, Bajra, and more are examples of these crops.

Kharif Crop

Water Requirements of Rabi & Kharif crops in Different Seasons of India

Water is one of the most important inputs essential for the production of crops. Hence crop planning should be done considering as per (Water requirement and Availability of water).

Water Requirements – The water requirement of crops is that quantity of water required by the crops within a given period of time for their maturity and it includes losses due to evapotranspiration plus the unavoidable losses during the application of water and water required for special operations such as land preparation, and leaching. The quantity of water needed for irrigation on different soil types per meter depth of soil profile at 50% of soil moisture availability is as follows – Sandy soils (25-50 mm), Sandy-loam (45-80 mm), Loam (70-110 mm), Clay-loam (80-120 mm) and Heavy clay (100-140 mm).

The water requirement of different crops is given below-

Rice – The amount of water required for growing rice is varies widely under different conditions:-

[1000 – 1500 mm – Heavy soils high water table, Short duration variety, Kharif season].

[1500 – 2000 mm – Medium soils, Kharif or early spring season].

[2000 – 2500 mm – Light soils, Long duration varieties during Kharif, Medium duration varieties during summer].


Wheat – It requires about 4-5 times irrigation. The dwarf wheat needs more wetness and the optimum moisture range is from 100-60% of availability. For tall wheat the optimum-moisture range is from the field capacity to 50% of availability.


Barley – About 2-3 times irrigation are adequate and the optimum soil moisture ranges from the field capacity to 40% of availability.


Maize – The optimum soil moisture range is from 100-60% of availability in the maximum root-zone, which extends from 40-60 cm on different soil types. In the northern parts 2-3 times irrigation are required before the onset of the monsoon. In Karnataka 2-5 times irrigation are necessary during Kharif and Rabi respectively. At Rajasthan 4 times irrigation (500 mm of water) are required during Kharif.


Sorghum and Other Millets – The optimum moisture range is from the field capacity to 40% of the availability. At boot stage and grain development, the water requirement is very important.

Types Of Millets

Pulses or Grain Legumes – When grown alone, 1 or 2 times irrigation would be beneficial. The grain legumes (gram, lentil, pea and Indian bean) are irrigated for 2 or 3 times during their growth.


Oilseeds – The crops are generally grown under rain fed conditions. Groundnut – 8 to 10 times irrigation of about 50mm each are applied at 10-15 days interval during its growth period. Sunflower, Mustard and Linseeds are grown alone are mixed with cereals should receive 3 or 4 times irrigation during their growth.

Cotton – The optimum moisture range of soil moisture for the crop is from the field capacity to 20% of availability in 0-75 cm of the root-zone. Water requirements varied from 400-800 mm under different conditions and about 4-7 irrigation are required for cotton.

Cotton Plant

Jute – The optimum moisture regime is from the field capacity to 70% of availability in the maximum root-zone of the crop which can extend to about 45 cm of soil depth.

Carpets made of Jute

Sugarcane – The optimum soil moisture for sugarcane has been found to be 100-50% range of availability in the maximum root-zone, extending upto 50-75 cm in depth. In the north, the crop is planted during February-March and irrigated till the commencement of the monsoon.

Fresh sugarcane in garden.

Tobacco – For cigar, hookah and bidi, tobacco the optimum moisture regimes are from the field capacity to 70, 60 and 50% of the availability respectively. Cigar tobacco needs light and frequent irrigation during 4 months. For hookah tobacco, 12-13 times irrigation of 50 mm of water is required.

Tobacco Plants

Forage Crops – The optimum moisture range is from field capacity to about 75% of availability. Berseem requires about 20 times irrigation during its growth at intervals of about 20 days (December-January), 15 days (November-February-March) & 10 days (September-October-April). For Lucerne 1800 to 2000 mm of water require during the first year of growth.

Vegetables – The soil moisture should range between 70-80% of availability in the maximum root-zone. Potato needs water at intervals of 10-12 days. Onion and Garlic need very frequent irrigation about 3 weeks before maturity the irrigation is delayed to enhance the keeping quality of the bulb. Tomato needs irrigation at intervals of 10-12 days during summer and 15-20 days during winter. The optimum moisture regime is from 100-50% of the availability in case of cabbage and cauliflower. Water-melon and musk-melon need water at intervals of 8-10 days. Other crop of cucurbitaceae family needs irrigation at intervals of 10-12 days during summer.

Different types of Vegetables

Spices and Condiments – Important crops are turmeric, ginger, chillies, ajwan, cumin and coriander. Turmeric and ginger should be irrigated to maintain 100-60% of the available moisture in the maximum root-zone, the top 50 cm of the soil. Chillies should be irrigated to maintain 100-50% of the available moisture to about 60 cm in the soil. Coriander, cumin and ajwan need irrigation at intervals of 10-12 days on light soil and 15-20 days on heavy soils

Different types of Spices

Fruit-trees – For fruit trees soil moisture should be maintain in the range of 100-75% of availability. On the full development of the root-zone down to 75-90 cm, the crops may be irrigated when 2/3 times of the available moisture is depleted during blossoming, fruit settings are fruit enlargement. Papaya and banana needs irrigation at intervals of 8-10 days in a tropical climate. The date palm needs regular irrigation during flowering and fruiting to produce good yields.

Different Types of Fruits

Coffee – To irrigate coffee after the cessation of the monsoon rains during flowering to avoid flower shedding is of profitable.

Coffee & Coffee Beans

When the land does not receive any irrigation, the cultivator takes single crop in Kharif season on the available moisture in the soil. If the soil is heavy, a second crop in Rabi season after a short duration crop in Kharif season, but two seasonal or perennial crops is not beneficial. When irrigation becomes available the cropping plan can include heavy perennials like sugarcane and banana, light perennials like guava or orange, two seasonal crops like long staple cotton, chillies, turmeric etc. besides Kharif and Rabi seasonal crops and also follow double cropping such as groundnut green gram, black gram etc. Followed by wheat or rabbi Jowar, Kharif Jowar or cotton followed by wheat, gram or some vegetable to seasonal crop followed by summer groundnut or some vegetable crop.


One thought on “Rabi & Kharif Crops

Comments are closed.