Commercial crops are those crops which are grown for sale either in raw form or semi processed form.

1. Sugarcane

Sugarcane belongs to bamboo family of plants and is indigenous to India. It is a Kharif crop. It is the main source of sugar, gur and khandsari. It also provides raw material for the manufacturing of alcohol. Bagasse, the crushed cane residue, also has multiple uses. It is used for manufacturing of paper. It is also an efficient substitute for petroleum products and a host of other chemical products. A part of it is also used as fodder.

(a) Temperature: It requires hot and humid climate with an average temperature of 21°C to 27°C.

(b) Rainfall: 75-150 cm rainfall is favourable for sugarcane cultivation. Irrigation is required in those areas where rainfall is less than the prescribed limit.

(c) Soil: It can grow in a variety of soils. In fact sugarcane can tolerate any kind of soil that can retain moisture. But deep rich loamy soil is ideal for its growth. The soil should be rich in nitrogen, calcium and phosphorous but neither it should be too acidic nor alkaline. Flat, plain and level plateau is an advantage for sugarcane cultivation because it facilitates irrigation and transportation of cane to the sugar mills. Sugarcane cultivation requires heavy manures and fertilizers because it exhausts the fertility of soils quickly and extensively.

(d) Labour: It is a labour orientated cultivation and requires cheap labour. Ample human hands are required at every stage i.e. sowing, hoeing, weeding, irrigation, cutting and carrying sugarcane to the factories.

(e) Distribution: India has the largest area under sugarcane cultivation in the world and the second largest producer next to Brazil. As far as distribution of sugarcane cultivation in India is concerned, there are three distinct geographical regions in the country. These regions are:

  1. The Satluj-Ganga plain from Punjab to Bihar containing 51% of the total area and 60% of the country’s total production.
  2. The black soil belt from Maharashtra to Tamil Nadu along the eastern slopes of the western Gahats.
  3. Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Krishna river valley.

2. Cotton

Cotton is the most important fibre crop not only of India but also of the entire world. It not only provides a raw material for cotton textile industry but also its seed is used in Vanaspati oil industry. The cotton seed is also used as part of fodder for milch cattle for better milk production. Cotton is a kharif crop and grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas.

(a) Temperature: Cotton is the crop of tropical and sub-tropical areas and requires uniformly high temperature varying between 21°C and 30°C.

(b) Rainfall: It grows mostly in the areas having at least 210 frost free days in a year. It requires modest amount of rainfall of 50 to 100 cm. However, cotton is successfully grown with the help of irrigation in the areas where rainfall is less than 50 cm. High amount of rainfall in the beginning and sunny and dry weather at the time of ripening are very useful for a good crop.

(c) Soil: Cotton cultivation is very closely related to Black soils of Deccan and Malwa plateau. However, it also grows well in alluvial soils of the Satluj-Ganga plain and red and laterite soils of the peninsular region.

(d) Labour: As picking of cotton has not been made mechanised till now, therefore a lot of cheap and efficient labour is required at the time of picking.

(e) Distribution: India has the largest area under cultivation and third largest producer of cotton next only to China and the USA. Within the country, two third of total area and production is shared by four states. The main states for cotton production are Panjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana.

3. Oil Seeds

It is one of the important groups of commercial crops in India. India has the largest area and production of oil seeds in the world. Oil extracted from oil seeds not only forms an important item of diet but also serves as raw material for the manufacturing of hydrogenated oils, paints, varnishes, soaps, lubricants, etc.

Oil-cake (the residue after the oil is extracted from the oil seeds) forms an important cattle feed and manure.

Groundnut: It is the most important oil seed of India. Groundnut is grown both as kharif and rabi crop but 90-95% of the total area is devoted to kharif crop.

(a) Temperature: It thrives best in the tropical climate and requires 20°C to 30°C temperature.

(b) Rainfall: 50-75 cm rainfall is favourable for groundnut cultivation. It is highly susceptible to frost, prolonged drought, continuous rain and stagnant water. Therefore dry winter is needed at the time of ripening.

(c) Soil: Well drained light sandy loams, red, yellow and black soils are well suited for its cultivation.

(d) Distribution: It is the most important oil seed of India and accounts for about half of the major oil seeds produced in the country. India is the largest producer of groundnut in the world and accounts for about one third of the world’s to the production. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat are three main producer of groundnut in India and account for about 60% of the total production. Another 30% of the total production comes from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Odisha.