Difference Between Rabi and Kharif Crops

What are Rabi Crops?

The Arabic translation of Rabi is ‘Spring’. Rabi crops are sown during winter in India and Pakistan which is why they are also known as winter crops. The sowing season generally starts around November and the crops are harvested between March and April which is springtime in the region.  Since monsoon is over by November in these countries, these crops are usually cultivated using irrigation or rainwater that has percolated into the ground. The seeds are sown at the start of autumn and the crop is harvested in the spring. Unseasonal showers in November and December are harmful to the growth of Rabi crops. 

Rabi Crop Examples: Some of the common examples of major rabi crops grown in India are wheat, mustard, barley, green peas, sunflower, coriander, cumin etc.


A large portion of agricultural income for India comes through the production of wheat. It is the second-largest producer of this crop in the world. 

As wheat requires low temperatures to grow, winter is the ideal season for farming this Rabi crop. The ideal temperature range should be around 14 to 18 degrees centigrade with a rainfall of 50 cms to 90cms. The crop is harvested in spring when the temperature is slightly warm. 

In India, Uttar Pradesh is the largest wheat producing state and is closely followed by Punjab and Haryana.

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Mustard is another Rabi crop which is widely used in Indian households for cooking. It requires a dry and cool climate to grow (subtropical climate) and the ideal temperature range is in-between 10 to 25-degree centigrade. With 60% of total production in the country, Uttar Pradesh again is the largest mustard producing state in the country followed by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

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What are Kharif Crops?

The word Kharif is also Arabic and it means ‘Autumn’ and the Kharif crops are harvested in this season (September or October).  These crops are also known as monsoon crops as they are cultivated in this season. They grow well in rain-fed areas with a hot and humid climate.  However, the Kharif season differs from state-to-state within India. The general period of sowing starts from June till November depending on the area.  

Kharif Crops Examples: Some examples of Kharif crops are rice, bajra, groundnut, cotton etc.


Rice is the most common example of a Kharif crop. India produces 20% of  the world’s rice production, second to China. It is one of the most important agricultural crops in the country and is a staple food pan India. 

Rice grows in regions with heavy rainfall and requires a minimum rainfall of 100cms and an average temperature of 25-degree centigrade. The crop is traditionally grown in waterlogged rice paddy fields. 

West-Bengal is the largest rice-producing state in India.


Maize is another important cereal crop in India. It requires a minimum rainfall of 50 cms to 75 cms and temperatures in-between 21 to 27-degree centigrade. The largest maize producing state in India is Karnataka.

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The Differences Between Rabi and Kharif Crops

Rabi Crops

Kharif Crops

Rabi crops are sown at the end of monsoon or the beginning of winter. They are also known as winter crops.

Kharif crops are sown at the beginning of the rainy season and are also known as monsoon crops.

Flowering requires a long day length.

Flowering requires a short day length.

These crops need a warm climate for seed germination and cold climate for growth.

These crops require a lot of water and hot weather to grow. They depend on rainfall.

Unseasonal rainfall can damage Rabi crops.

Kharif crops depend on rainfall patterns.

The harvesting months are March and April.

These crops are harvested in September and October

Examples: Mustard, wheat, cumin, coriander etc. 

Examples: Rice, bajra, groundnut.


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Zaid Crops

The wide range of crops that grow in the short season between Kharif and Rabi crop seasons are known as Zaid crops. These are the months of March till July. 

Examples: Pumpkin, cucumber, bitter gourd etc.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1: What are Rabi and Kharif Crops?


Rabi crops: The wide range of crops which are sown at the end of monsoon or the beginning of winter, require a dry and cool climate to grow and are harvested between March and April are known as Rabi crops

Examples: Green peas, wheat, cumin.

Kharif crops: The wide range of crops which are sown at the beginning of monsoon, require a hot climate and rainfall and are harvested between September and October are known as Kharif crops.

Examples: Rice, maize, cotton etc.

Q2: What are Seed Banks?

Ans: Seed banks are established all over the world as a storage facility for seed samples. This is done to preserve biodiversity. These banks can specialise in a certain type of crop from a specific region.

For example The International Potato Centre in Lima, Peru has over 150 wild potato species and tubers of Andean origin 

The Svalbard Global seed bank is the world’s most diverse seed bank. It has the capacity to hold 4.5 MN seed samples and already has 1mn samples in storage. It serves as failsafe protection for the world’s agricultural inheritance against social, economic or natural disaster.

Q3: How Many Different Types of Crops are There?

Ans: There are 7 Different Types of Crops:

  1. Food crops: These are fruits and vegetables and are harvested for human consumption. Kharif Rabi and Zaid crops come under this category. Examples: Wheat, rice, pumpkin

  2. Feed crops: These are harvested for cattle and all livestock. Examples: Oats, alfalfa etc.

  3. Fibre crops: These crops are utilised in the textile and paper industry. Examples: Cotton

  4. Oil crops: These crops are generally cultivated and harvested for cooking. Fuel made from oil crops is known as biofuel. Examples: Mustard, corn, canola etc.

  5. Industrial crops: These are utilised in factories and machines for the production of industrial goods. Examples: Rubber

  6. Ornamental crops: These are harvested for landscape gardening and are purchased for residential and commercial settings. Example: Tulips, dogwood, azalea etc.

  7. Cash crops: These crops are grown and harvested because of their commercial value. Generally, all types of crops come under this category.