Food grains are the crops that are used for human consumption.
Rice is the most important food crop of India. It is predominantly a Kharif or summer crop. It covers about one third of total cultivated area of the country and provides food to more than half of the Indian population. Maximum population of India is of rice consumers.
(a) Temperature: Rice requires hot and humid conditions. The temperature should be fairly high i.e. 24°C mean monthly temperature with average temperature of 22°C to 32°C.
(b) Rainfall: Rainfall ranging between 150-300 cm is suitable for its growth in areas of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh. Where rainfall is less than 100 cm, rice is cultivated with the help of irrigation.
(c) Soil: Rice is grown in varied soil conditions but deep clayey and loamy soil provides the ideal conditions. Rice is primarily grown in plain areas. It is also grown below sea level at Kuttinad (Kerala), hill terraces of north eastern part of India and valleys of Kashmir.
(d) Labour: Rice cultivation requires easily available cheap labour because most of the activities associated with it are labour orientated and are not very well suited for mechanisation.
(e) Distribution: Rice is grown in almost all the states of India. The main rice producing states are Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chhatisgarh, Punjab, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam and Maharashtra. It is also grown in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Gujrat and Kashmir Valley.
Wheat is the second most important food crop of India next to rice. It is a Rabi or winter crop. It is sown in the beginning of winter and harvested in the beginning of summer. Normally (in north India) the sowing of wheat begins in the month of October-November and harvesting is done in the month of March-April. This is the staple food of millions of people particularly in the northern and north-western regions of India. Unlike rice, wheat is grown mostly as a rabi or winter crop.
(a) Temperature: It is primarily a crop of mid-latitude grassland. It requires cool climate. The ideal temperature is between 10°C to 15°C at the time of sowing and 21°C to 26°C at the time of ripening and harvesting.
(b) Rainfall: Wheat thrives well in areas receiving annual rainfall of about 75 cm. Annual rainfall of about 100 cm is the upper limit for wheat cultivation. Areas receiving more than 100 cm of rainfall are suitable for rice cultivation. Like rice, wheat can also be grown by irrigation method in areas where rainfall is less than 75 cm. But on the other hand, frost at the time of flowering and hailstorm at the time of ripening can cause heavy damage to the wheat crop.
(c) Soil: Although wheat can be grown in a variety of soils but well drained fertile loamy and clayey loamy soil is best suited for wheat cultivation. Plain areas are very well suited for wheat production.
(d) Labour: Wheat is highly mechanised and requires less labour.
(e) Distribution: The main regions of wheat production in India are U.P., Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat, Maharashtra. U.P.. Punjab and Haryana together produce more than 66% of the total wheat of the country.
Millets are short duration warm weather crops. These are coarse grain crops and are used for both food and fodder. These are kharif crop. These are sown in May-August and harvested in October-November. In India, lots of millet is grown and these are known by various local names. Some of these are Jawar, Bajra, Ragi, Korra, Kodon, Kutki, Hraka, Bauti, Rajgira. In India, Jawar, Bajra and Ragi are grown on large areas. But unfortunately area under these crops has drastically reduced over the years.
(a) Temperature: These crops are grown where the temperature is high which ranges between 27°C to 32°C.
(b) Rainfall: Millets are ‘dry land crops’, therefore, rainfall ranging from 50 to 100 cm is ideal for their cultivation.
(c) Soil: Millets are less sensitive to soil deficiencies. They can be grown in inferior alluvial or loamy soil.
(d) Distribution: Jawar, Bajra, is grown both in north and south India whereas ragi is generally concentrated in the southern India. Jawar, Bajra, is grown in Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat, Rajasthan, Maharastra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. Ragi is generally concentrated in the southern India i.e. Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
It includes a number of crops which are mostly leguminous and provide invaluable proteins to the vegetarian population of India, as they have fewer sources of proteins in comparison to those who consume meat and fish. They also serve as excellent forage and grain concentrates in the cattle feed. Apart from that these leguminous crops have the capacity to fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil and are normally rotated with other crops to maintain and restore soil fertility.
A large variety of pulses are found in India. These are gram, tur or arhar (Pigeon Pea or Red Gram), urd (black gram), mung (green gram), masur (lentil), kulthi (horse gram), matar (peas). Only gram and tur or arhar are more important pulses.
Gram: It is the most important of all the pulses. It accounts for about 37% of the production and about 30% of the total area of pulses in India. It is a rabi crop which is sown between September and November and is harvested between February and April. It is either cultivated as a single crop or mixed with wheat, barley, linseed or mustard.
(a) Temperature: It is grown in a wide range of climatic condition. Mild cool and comparatively dry climate with 20°C-25°C temperature.
(b) Rainfall: 40-45 cm rainfall is favourable for gram cultivation.
(c) Soil: It grows well on loamy soils.
(d) Distribution: Although gram is cultivated in several parts of the country, however, 90% of the total production comes from five states. These states are Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Maharashtra.