Seasonal life cycle of crops and plants

Updated: Feb 2



Plants can be classified based on the seasons when they can be grown as well as their life cycle.


Classification based on seasons

It is vital to make a distinction between plants based on the seasons to know when they can be sown and harvested to reap benefits.

In India, Rabi, Kharif, and Zaid are the three types of crops that are grown depending upon the seasons. Hence when to sow the seeds and to harvest them is determined by these seasons.



Rabi Crops

Usually, Rabi crops (Wheat, gram, mustard, peas and so on) are sown in winter around mid-November and harvested during summer in January, February, and March. February is the month in which harvest is maximum. Wheat crops for instance take around 60 to 150 days to grow completely and they develop in over 10 to 11 stages after their seeds are sown in October or November. They develop into a young plant while they germinate and remain in the state of dormancy during winter to resume their growth during the spring. Now, one might wonder as to why Rabi crops are not grown during the rainy seasons. The reason why Rabi crops are sown during winter is that Rabi crops have a great risk of getting damaged due to rainwater. Hence ideally they are grown after the rains.



Kharif Crops

Kharif crops (Rice, maize, soybean, cotton and so on) are entirely monsoon crops. While rain can cause major damage to Rabi crops, the same rains can prove to be a great source of water for the Kharif crop's growth. They are sown at the beginning of the monsoon in June and harvested after the monsoon rains mostly during September or October. Rice for instance is grown over a period of 105 to 150 days. The first phase which is the vegetative phase begins from the point of germination to the pinnacle initiation after the seeds are sown. The emergence of flowers marks the beginning of the second phase or, the reproductive phase. Finally, the crops mature in their full glory during the ripening phase after which they are harvested. Not receiving the right amount of rain can lead to the wastage of the entire year's crop, so it is crucial to grow it during monsoon season.



Zaid Crops

Zaid crops (Watermelons, muskmelons, cucumbers, bitter gourds, peanuts and so on) bridge the gap between rabi and Kharif crops being the source of income for the farmers. They are also known as summer crops. Crops are grown for a long duration from March to June are Zaid crops. These crops develop within a short period and are ready for harvest. Warm weather is an ideal condition required for their growth. Hence, they are grown twice within the month's March to June, first from March to April and finally from May to June. Watermelons, muskmelons, cucumbers, and bitter gourds are among the few crops which are grown during this period. Watermelon for instance germinate and sprout to grow seedlings that look like vines. These vines develop to bear flowers which bloom eventually becoming fruits having seeds within them. Hence harvest season generally lasts from May to September.



Classification based on their life cycle

Just like human hair, plants also undergo a seasonal cycle. They complete their life cycle in a year, two or more depending upon whether they are annual plants, perennial plants, or biennials.



Annual plants

Annual plants complete their life cycle within a year or a season. In the case of a summer annual, its seed germinates after remaining dormant and flowers. The flower produces new seeds and dies during the same summer of that year. Similarly, winter annuals seeds germinate, and flowers bloom. The flower leaves behind the seed and dies during the same winter or spring of that particular year completing the life cycle.



Biennial plants

Biennial plants complete their life cycle within two years. The seeds grow vegetatively and enter a stage of dormancy within the first year of their growth. At the beginning of the second year, the seed further grows vegetatively until it blooms into a flower eventually leaving behind the seed to die by the end of the second year.



Perennial plants

Perennial plants complete their life cycle through many years. Most seeds remain dormant without undergoing any change during cold or dry seasons and grow during warmer seasons while evergreen plants keep growing throughout the year.

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