Wheat is the second most important crop in India next to rice
. This food grain of the country is actually the staple food of the people of north-western India. A huge portion of the total cropped area in the country is under the production of wheat crop. It is also said that as a food, wheat is more nutritive as compared to the other cereals. The gluten present in wheat determines its chapati
making quality. Hard varieties of wheat are richer in gluten. In India, generally hard varieties of wheat are grown as most of the wheat grown in the country is consumed in the form of chappatis.
Wheat is one of the oldest crops introduced in India at least four thousand years ago from the Middle East that is mainly East Mediterranean and West Asia. It does well on the loamy soils of Northern plains covering Punjab
and western Uttar Pradesh
. It also grows well in the black soils of Madhya Pradesh
. The small areas expand towards the rest of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar
. It is, however, fundamentally a crop of north India.
Wheat requires a cool and wet climate during the growing season and a dry warm climate at the time of ripening. A yearly rainfall of 50 to 75 cm is usually prefect. All these essentials make it a superlative rabi crop. A few spell of winter showers or guaranteed irrigation, ensures an abundant harvest. Unlike the rice crop, it is not so much at the mercy of forces of nature. It also prefers clayey alluvial soils. And in India, wheat is mainly grown in those areas, which receive less than 100 cm per year. At the time of sowing of this crop, adequate moisture in the soil is required. Wheat is sown in moderately large areas during that time of the year when a few showers of rain fall before it is sown.
Wheat basically needs to be irrigated for around seven times during its growing period if it rains. Moreover, bright sunshine during the ripening period increases its yield. Warm and dry weather facilitates harvesting of the crop. In India, it has been observed that the climatic conditions required for the growth of wheat are below optimum. Besides relatively poor climatic conditions, poor supplies of fertilizers, inadequate irrigation and shortage of electricity and diesel oil adversely affect the production of wheat. Thus, India is not ideally suited for wheat cultivation because of short and moderately dry and warm winter season.
to some extent has the suitable climatic conditions for the cultivation of wheat in India. High temperature at the time of sowing hampers tillering of the early sown crop and sudden rise in temperature at the time of ripening shrivels the grain especially of the crop sown late. In those years, when there is an unusual rise in temperature during the months of March and April, yield per hectare falls considerably. Wheat varieties suitable for areas having different climatic conditions have been developed in India. Further, since the production of wheat falls considerably short of requirements, concerted attempts have been made to produce more wheat in the country.