Wheat is a major crop in North India. It is a Rabi crop grown in the winter and harvested in the spring season. It is the second most cultivated cereal crop in India with an estimated yearly production of 100-110 million MT.
Wheat is one of the oldest cultivated crops believed to have been grown for over 10,000 years. Wheat is actually a grass with many species. Common wheat/bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) is the most common wheat species in the world.
Wheat products have become a characteristic of North Indian food. You cannot imagine a proper North Indian meal without wheat chapatis or parathas. Wheat is also used to make bread, biscuits, pasta, etc. Since wheat is a Rabi crop, it grows in cool temperatures. It is also cultivated in the Himalayan mountains even at elevations greater than 2,500 meters. The seeds germinate at an ideal temperature of 15-25 degrees Celsius. If the temperatures during germination are higher, the yields tend to be lower.
Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana are the largest wheat-producing states in India. Most varieties of wheat have a 100-130 days growth period and give an average yield of 30-40 quintals per hectare. Wheat grows best in Alluvial, loamy soils with average water-holding capacity. The soil pH should be neutral. Too much rain during the growth season can destroy crops. Rain and hailstorms promote fungal infections in wheat particularly yellow rust that drastically reduces grain size.
With better farming techniques, wheat crop production continues to grow in India. Since independence, the production has grown manifolds, over 16 times. The total production is breaking records every year and in a few years’ time, India is expected to cross the 120 million MT mark.