In general, crop is an organism grown and / or harvested for obtaining yield. Agronomically, crop is
a plant cultivated for economic purpose.
Classification of crops
Classification is done to generalize similar crop plants as a class for better understanding of them.
Classification types used in crops
1. Based on ontogeny (Life cycle)
2. Based on economic use (Agronomic)
3. Based on Botany (Scientific)
4. Based on seasons
5. Based on climate
1. Based on Ontogeny (Life cycle)
a) Annual crops:
Crop plants that complete life cycle within a season or year. They produce seed and die within the season.
Ex. Wheat, rice, maize, mustard etc.
b) Biennial crops:
Plants that have life span of two consecutive seasons or years. First years/ season, these plants have purely
vegetative growth usually confined to rosette of leaves. The tap root is often fleshy and serves as a food
storage organ. During the second year / season, they produce flower stocks from the crown and after
producing seeds the plants die. Ex. Sugar beet, beet root, etc.
c) Perennial crops:
They live for three or more years. They may be seed bearing or non-seed bearing. Ex. Napier fodder grass,
2. Based economic use (Agronomic)
Cereal derived from word ‘Ceres’ which denotes as ‘Goddess’ who was believed as the giver of
grains by Romans. Cereals are the cultivated grasses grown for their edible starchy grains. Larger grains
used as staple food – Rice, wheat, maize, barley, oats etc.
Cereal grain contains 60 to 70% of starch and is excellent energy rich foods for humans. In almost
every country and region, cereals provide the staple food. In the world as a whole, only 5% of starchy staple
food comes from root crops (mainly cassava, potato, and yams, depending on climate), whereas the rest is
from cereal. Cereals are an excellent source of fat soluble vitamin E, which is an essential antioxidant.
Whole cereal grains contain 20 to 30% of the daily requirements of the minerals such as selenium, calcium,
zinc and copper.
Millets are small grained cereals, staple food in drier regions of the developing countries are called
‘millets’. They are also annual grasses of the group cereals. But’ they are grown in lesser area or less
important area whose productivity and economics are also less important. These are also staple food for
people of poor countries. In India, pearl millet is a staple food in Rajasthan. Millets are broadly classified in to two, 1) Major millets and 2) Minor millets.
1. Sorghum /Jowar/Cholam – Sorghum bicolor
2. Pearl millet /Bajra/Cumbu – Pennisetum glaucum
3. Finger millet or Ragi – Eleusine coracona
1. Foxtail millet / Thenai – Setaria italica
2. Little millet / Samai – Panicum miliare
3. Common millet / Panivaraugu – Panicum miliaceum
4. Barnyard millet / Kudiraivali – Echinchloa colona var frumentaceae
5. Kodo millet / Varagu – Paspalum scrobiculatum
Seeds of leguminous plants used as food (Dhal) rich in protein. Pod containing grain is the
economic portion. Pulses are preferred for protein rich value & also economic important in cropping
system. The wastes or stalk is called the ‘haulm’ or ‘stover’. Haulm is used as green manure and has high
value cattle feed. Green pods used as vegetables, e.g. cowpea, lablab. Seed coat of pulses are nutritious
1. Red gram – Cajanus cajan
2. Black gram – Vigna mungo
3. Green gram – V. radiata
4. Cowpea – V. unguiculata
5. Bengalgram – Cicer arietinum
6. Horsegram – Macrotyloma uniflorum
7. Lentil – Lens esculentus
8. Soybean – Glycine max
9. Peas or gardenpea – Pisum sativum
10. Garden bean – Lablab purpureus
11. Lathyrus/Kesari – Lathyrus sativus
d) Oil seeds: Those crops which are rich in fatty acid are cultivated for the production of vegetable oil.
They are used either for edible or industrial or medicinal purposes.
1. Groundnut or peanut – Arachis hypogeae
2. Sesame or gingelly – Sesamum indicum
3. Sunflower – Helianthus annuus
4. Castor – Ricinus communis
5. Linseed or flax – Linum usitatissimum
6. Niger – Guizotia abyssinia
7. Safflower – Carthamus tinctorius
8. Rapeseed & Mustard
Brown or Indian Mustard – Brassica juncea
9. Sarson – Brassica sp.
Pod is economic portion in groundnut and contains 50% of oil content. Oil is edible or cooking oil
and haulm is a used as cattle feed and also has manure value. The shell has fuel value; it is used for soil
amendment. It is a bed material in the poultry forms. Oil cake is used as cattle feed and has manural value.
Oil is used for production of Vanaspathi and soap making.
Sesame oil is cooking oil and economic parts are generally seeds (in the pod). Gingelly cake is used
as a cattle feed, whereas capsule and stalk are used for composting / burning purpose.
Seed (kernal) of castor contains oil and used as medicinal and industrial oil. Mainly aviation
industries use this for lubrication purpose. Castor cake is concentrated organic manure. The shell and stalk
is used for fuel purpose.
Mustard oil is edible oil and seeds are the economic portion. Oil cake is a good cattle feed.
Safflower and sunflower:
Oil is used for cooking purpose. Both of these oils contain more of unsaturated fatty acids and used
for heart patients. Cake is used as cattle feed and also organic material and decorticated manure.
Seed is the economic portion and used in soap making, paint, varnish & light lubricant. Crop is
generally an industrial crop.
Oil extracted from seeds is used in preparation of paints and varnishes.
e. Sugar crops
Crops cultivated for sugar. Juice is extracted from stem of sugarcane used for jaggery or sugar.
Number of by products like molasses, bagasse, pressmud etc. is obtained from sugar industry. Molasses
used for alcohol and yeast formation and bagasse for paper making and fuel. Pressmud used for soil
amendment; whereas, trash (green leaf + dry foliage) is used for cattle feed.
Sugar beet is another sugar crop where tubers are mainly used for extraction of sugar. Tubers and
tops are used as a fodder for cattle feed.
1. Sugarcane – Saccharum officinarum
2. Sugar beet – Beta vulgaris
f) Fibre crops:
Plants are grown for obtaining fibre. Different kinds of fibre are, i) seed fibre – cotton; ii) Stem/
bast fibre – Jute, mesta; iii) leaf fibre – Agave, pineapple.
Important fibre crop of the world, used for garment purpose. Seed for cattle feed and oil is edible
purpose. Epidermal hairs of seed coats is the economic portion. Lint (Kapas-seed) has industrial value
(fibre) and stalk is of fuel nature.
Jute, Sunnhemp, mesta:
The fibre obtained from stems is used for gunny bags, ropes. Stem itself is used as fuel.
Sunnhemp is used for both stem fibre and green manure crop.
g) Fodder / Forage:
It refers to vegetative matter, fresh or preserved, utilized as feed for animals. It
includes hay, silage, pasturage and fodder.
Ex. 1. Grasses – Bajra napier grass, guinea grass, fodder sorghum, fodder maize.
2. Legumes – Lucerne, Desmanthus, etc.
h) Spices and condiments: Crop plants or their products used for flavour, taste and add colour to the fresh or preserved food. Ex.– Ginger, garlic, fenugreek, cumin, turmeric, chillies, onion, coriander, anise and
i) Medicinal plants: Crops used for preparation of medicines. Ex. Tobacco, mint. etc.
j) Beverages: Products of crops used for preparation of mild, agreeable and simulating drinking. Ex. Tea,
coffee, cocoa (Plantation crops).
3. Scientific or botanical classification Botanical or scientific names of plants which consist of genus and species and are universally accepted. Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, was responsible for the binomial system of classification.
Group Grass (Wheat) Legume (Alfalfa)
Kingdom Plant Plant
Division Spermatophyta Spermatophyta
Sub-division Angiospermae Angiospermae
Class Monocotyledonae Dicotyledonae
Order Graminales Rosales
Family Gramineae Leguminosae