Rice is the major food grain in India. It is in fact the dominant crop of the country. India is one of the leading producers of this crop. Rice is the basic food crop and being a tropical plant, it flourishes comfortably in hot and humid climate. Rice is mainly grown in rain fed areas that receive heavy annual rainfall. That is why it is fundamentally a kharif crop in India. It demands temperature of around 25 degree Celsius and above and rainfall of more than 100 cm. Rice is also grown through irrigation in those areas that receives comparatively less rainfall. Rice is the staple food of eastern and southern parts of India. In 2009-10, total rice production in India amounted to 89.13 million tonnes, which was much less than production of previous year, 99.18 million tonnes.
Rice can be cultivated by different methods based on the type of region. But in India, the traditional methods are still in use for harvesting rice. The fields are initially ploughed and then fertiliser is applied which typically consists of cow dung and then the field is smoothed. The seeds are transplanted by hand and then through proper irrigation, the seeds are cultivated. Rice grows on a variety of soils like silts, loams and gravels. It can also tolerate alkaline as well as acid soils. However, clayey loam is well suited to the raising of this crop. Actually the clayey soil can be easily converted into mud in which rice seedlings can be transplanted easily. Proper care has to be taken as this crop thrives if the soil remains wet and is under water during its growing years. Rice fields should be level and should have low mud walls for retaining water. In the plain areas, excess rain water is allowed to inundate the rice fields and flow slowly. Rice raised in the well watered lowland areas is known as lowland or wet rice. In the hilly areas, slopes are cut into terraces for the cultivation of rice. Thus, the rice grown in the hilly areas is known as dry or upland rice. Interestingly, per hectare yield of upland rice is comparatively less than that of the wet rice.
The regions cultivating this crop in India is distinguished as the western coastal strip, the eastern coastal strip, covering all the primary deltas, Assam plains and surrounding low hills, foothills and Terai region- along the Himalaya Mountains
and states like West Bengal
, eastern Uttar Pradesh
, eastern Madhya Pradesh
, northern Andhra Pradesh
. India, being a land of eternal growing season, and the deltas of Kaveri River
, Krishna River
, Godavari River
and Mahanadi River
with a thick set-up of canal irrigation, permits farmers to raise two, and in some pockets, even three crops a year. Irrigation has made even three crops a year possible. Irrigation has made it feasible even for Punjab
, known for their baked climate, to grow rice. They even export their excess to other states. Punjab
and Haryana grow prized rice for export purposes. The hilly terraced fields from Kashmir to Assam
are idyllically suited for rice farming, with age-old hill irrigational conveniences. High yielding kinds, enhanced planting methods, promised irrigation water supply and mounting use of fertilizers have together led to beneficial and quick results. It is the rain fed area that cuts down average yields per hectare.
In some of the states like West Bengal, Assam, Orissa and Bihar, two crops of rice are raised in a year. Winter season in the north western India are extremely cold for rice. Rice is considered as the master crop of coastal India and in some regions of the eastern India where during the summer monsoon rainy season both high temperature and heavy rainfall provide ideal conditions for the cultivation of rice. Almost all parts of India are suitable for raising rice during the summer season provided that the water is available. Thus, rice is also raised even in those parts of western Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana where low level areas are waterlogged during the summer monsoon rainy season.
Winter rice crop is a long duration crop and summer rice crop is a short duration crop. At some places in the eastern and southern parts of India, rice crop of short duration is followed by the rice crop of long duration. Winter rice crop is raised preferably in low lying areas that remain flooded mainly during the rainy season. Autumn rice is raised in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra
, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh
. Summer, autumn and winter rice crops are raised in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Orissa
. Summer rice crop is raised on a small scale and on a small area. However, winter rice crop is actually the leading rice crop accounting for a major portion of the total Hectare under rice in all seasons in the country. Moreover in the last few years, several steps in order to augment yield per hectare were taken up very seriously at all levels.