India is one of the main wheat producing and consuming countries of the world. After the Green Revolution in the 1970’s and 1980’s the production of wheat has shown a huge increase. The major States that are involved in the cultivation of wheat are those located in the plains like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. They account for nearly 70 per cent of the total wheat produced(External website that opens in a new window) in the country. Punjab and Haryana yield the highest amount of wheat because of the availability of better irrigation facilities. The production of wheat in other States like West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh has grown with the provision of better irrigation facilities in the area.
Wheat is a Rabi crop that is grown in the winter season. Sowing of wheat takes place in October to December and harvesting is done during the months of February and May. The wheat crop needs cool winters and hot summers, which is why the fertile plains of the Indo-Gangetic region are the most conducive for growing it. Though well-drained loams and clayey loams are considered the ideal soil for wheat, good crops of wheat have also been raised on sandy loams and black soils of the peninsula region.
India is broadly divided into 5 wheat zones based on agro-climatic conditions:
1. The North-Western Plains Zone: This is the most important zone and comprises the plains of the States of Punjab, Haryana, Jammu, Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh.
2. The North Eastern Plains Zone: This zone consists of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Orissa, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
3. The Central Zone: This zone consists of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, southeastern Rajasthan and the Bundelkhand area of Uttar Pradesh.
4. The Peninsular Zone: The peninsular zone consists of the southern States of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. Sowing is usually completed by early November and harvesting begins in the second half of February.
5. The Northern Hill Zone: This zone includes the hilly areas of Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam and Sikkim.