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Notes on Classification of Crops

Notes on Classification of Crops

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  • A crop is an organism grown and harvested for yield.
  • Crops are plants cultivated for economic purposes.

Classification of Crops:

  • Classification groups similar crop plants together.
  • It helps in understanding crops better.

Types of Classification:

  • Classification based on ontogeny (life cycle).
  • Classification based on economic use (agronomic).
  • Classification based on botany (scientific).
  • Classification based on seasons.
  • Classification based on climate.

Based on Ontogeny (Life Cycle):

Annual Crops:

  • Annual crops complete their life cycle in a season or year.
  • They produce seeds and die within the season.
  • Examples include wheat, rice, maize, and mustard.

Biennial Crops:

  • Biennial crops have a life span of two consecutive seasons or years.
  • In the first year, they show vegetative growth mainly as a rosette of leaves.
  • The tap root in biennials is often fleshy and stores food.
  • In the second year, they produce flower stocks and seeds, then die.
  • Examples include sugar beet and beetroot.

Perennial Crops:

  • Perennial crops live for three or more years.
  • They can be seed-bearing or non-seed-bearing.
  • Examples include Napier fodder grass and coconut.

Based on Economic Use (Agronomic):


  • The term "cereal" comes from "Ceres," the Roman Goddess of grains.
  • Cereals are cultivated grasses grown for edible starchy grains.
  • Major cereals include rice, wheat, maize, barley, and oats.
  • Cereal grains are 60 to 70% starch and provide energy.
  • Cereals are staple foods in almost every country.
  • Only 5% of starchy staple food globally comes from root crops.
  • The rest of the staple food is from cereals.
  • Cereals are rich in vitamin E, an essential antioxidant.
  • Whole cereal grains contain minerals like selenium, calcium, zinc, and copper.


  • Millets are small-grained cereals.
  • They are staple foods in drier regions of developing countries.
  • Millets are annual grasses in the cereal group.
  • They are less important in terms of area, productivity, and economics.
  • In poor countries, millets are a staple food.
  • In India, pearl millet is a staple food in Rajasthan.

Classification of Millets:

Major Millets:

  • Sorghum (Jowar/Cholam) - Scientific name: Sorghum bicolor.
  • Pearl millet (Bajra/Cumbu) - Scientific name: Pennisetum glaucum.
  • Finger millet (Ragi) - Scientific name: Eleusine coracona.

Minor Millets:

  • Foxtail millet (Thenai) - Scientific name: Setaria italica.
  • Little millet (Samai) - Scientific name: Panicum miliare.
  • Common millet (Panivaraugu) - Scientific name: Panicum miliaceum.
  • Barnyard millet (Kudiraivali) - Scientific name: Echinchloa colona var frumentaceae.
  • Kodo millet (Varagu) - Scientific name: Paspalum scrobiculatum.


  • Pulses are seeds of leguminous plants used for food.
  • Rich in protein, they are known as "Dhal."
  • The pod containing grain is the economic part of pulses.
  • Pulses are valued for protein and economic importance in cropping.
  • Wastes or stalks of pulses are called "haulm" or "stover."
  • Haulm is used as green manure and cattle feed.
  • Green pods of some pulses are used as vegetables, e.g., cowpea, lablab.
  • The seed coat of pulses is nutritious cattle feed.

Types of Pulses:

  • Red gram - Cajanus cajan.
  • Black gram - Vigna mungo.
  • Green gram - V. radiata.
  • Cowpea - V. unguiculata.
  • Bengal gram - Cicer arietinum.
  • Horse gram - Macrotyloma uniflorum.
  • Lentil - Lens esculentus.
  • Soybean - Glycine max.
  • Peas or garden pea - Pisum sativum.
  • Garden bean - Lablab purpureus.
  • Lathyrus/Kesari - Lathyrus sativus.

Oil Seeds:

  • Crops rich in fatty acids cultivated for vegetable oil.
  • Used for edible, industrial, or medicinal purposes.

Types of Oil Seeds:

  • Groundnut or peanut - Arachis hypogeae.
  • Sesame or gingelly - Sesamum indicum.
  • Sunflower - Helianthus annuus.
  • Castor - Ricinus communis.
  • Linseed or flax - Linum usitatissimum.
  • Niger - Guizotia abyssinia.
  • Safflower - Carthamus tinctorius.
  • Brown or Indian Mustard - Brassica juncea.
  • Sarson - Brassica sp.

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