by PR Sarkar Icon


Cereals are the staple food of human beings. Cereals vary in their type, nutritional value and use.

In many languages the words for food are synonymous with the words for rice or wheat, which signifies the importance of these crops to the people.

Rice is an older crop than wheat. Cereals can be divide into two sections – cereals and grasses.

Some important cereals include:

  • rice (paddy). The varieties include:
    • áus – early, áshu
    • áman – haemantik, autumn, pre-winter
    • boro – summer
  • wheat
  • barley
  • maize (corn)
  • oats
  • rye
  • millet (bájrá)

Some grass seeds include:

  • chiná
  • káun
  • kheri
  • nárkát́ia
  • shyámá
  • kada
  • máruya

There are other edible grass seeds grown in India, but they have little food value.

On the border of coarse grains crops like millet, it is good to grow hing (asafoetida) and lemongrass.

Rye is an oat group course cereal which is grown in cold countries.


Wheat is a more recent discovery than rice.

Early wheat varieties grow in Kárttika, Badra, Agraháyańa and Caetra. The prescribed period for sowing wheat is Kárttika, Agraháyańa, or up to the 7th of Paoś, that is, not beyond the 21st of December. Late wheat varieties grow in Agraháyańa, Paoś and Vaeshákha.

Wheat can be grown together with poppy (ordinary or opium varieties) and mustard. In England, wheat and poppy are commonly sown together.

If, in the month of Phálguna, easterly winds blow, the ripening will be delayed. Wheat cannot be transplanted and is a winter crop, a sown crop. For mixed cropping grow lentil, pea, khesári and poppy (both ordinary and opium) along with it. If these mixed crops occupy 10% of the field, they will not hamper wheat production. Rather, the production may increase because the mixed crops fix nitrogen in the soil. Wheat requires at least three watering periods during the sowing season.

Wheat Crop Mix

Wheat, poppy (ordinary poppy or opium poppy) and mustard can be grown as blended crops. Peas, lentils, khesári, etc. may be planted with wheat as well as poppy.

If any of these plants occupy 10% of a wheat field, the yield of the wheat will be increased so that the production of wheat will be the same as when wheat occupied the whole field.

Also, if wheat, peas and khesári are planted together, the production of wheat will be as much as when wheat was grown alone.

Yellow mustard, red mustard and the rái variety of mustard may all be sown as mixed crops with wheat. The larger variety of lentil may be cultivated along with wheat as a winter crop after the land has been tilled.

Wheat Crop Rotation

The crop rotation of wheat should be as follows:

A. Early wheat should be planted in Kárttika and grown from Kárttika to Mágha.

  1. Kárttika, Agraháyańa, Paośa, Mágha – plant wheat with either big lentils, big peas, yellow mustard or red mustard in a ratio of 9:1 wheat to other crops.
  2. Phálguna, Caetra, Vaeshákha – grow peanut with sesame or soybean.
  3. Jyaeśt́ha, Aśáŕha, Shrávańa – grow áus paddy with rainy season radish.
  4. Bhádra, Áshvina – grow maize with green gram for two months.

B. Late wheat should be planted in Agraháyańa and grown from Agraháyańa to Phálguna.

  1. Agraháyańa, Paośa, Mágha, Phálguna – plant wheat with big lentils, big peas or red mustard. Yellow mustard will not grow well in this season because insects will attack it.
  2. Caetra, Vaeshákha, Jyaeśt́ha – grow ginger or peanut with sesame or soybean.
  3. Áśáŕha, Shrávańa, Bhádra – grow late áus paddy with with rainy season radish.
  4. Áshvina and Kárttika – grow maize and green gram.


Barley grows on less fertile land.

Maize (Corn)

Maize is an all-season crop which matures in 50-90 days, depending on the variety. The rajendra variety matures in 50-52 days, but has no taste.


Oats are a winter crop which can grow in land that is not very fertile and requires little watering. They have a lot of food value but are not very tasty.


Rye has some characteristics similar to those of oats. It requires extremely chilly weather in order to grow properly.

Millet (Bájrá)

Millet is a summer crop which may also be grown in winter.

Grass Seeds

Most grasses take 60-80 days to mature. They have little nutritional value and are used by poor people to fill their bellies. There are numerous grass seeds grown for this purpose in India:

spring crops, randomly sown: chiná káun

summer crops: kheri nárkát́ia shyámá kada máruya

Many crops also provide good fodder for animals.

Some of these crops, such as sweet potatoes and black gram, can be pruned regularly, thus encouraging more growth and providing more animal fodder.

In addition, some crops need to be grown exclusively for animal fodder. One of the best grasses to encourage milk production in cows is napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum). Wherever possible, this grass should be grown on the top of hillocks and hills to conserve the best farm land for other crops. This may be a bit difficult because napier grass needs a lot of water, but the attempt should be made.


Coarse grains include:

rice wheat barley maize (corn) oats rye millet (bájrá) tapioca. The varieties include: śimul álu (Bengal) simarkand (Bihar) arrowroot

Many coarse grains are also cereals, and include rice, wheat, barley, maize oats, rye and millet. These grains are discussed in the section on cereal crops.


Tapioca is more nutritious than sweet potato (shakkarkand).

It is usually prepared by powdering the roots of the plant into small granules. Other products like papar and bari can also be made from tapioca.

There are two varieties of tapioca:

  • śimul álu (Bengal)
  • simarkand (Bihar)


Arrowroot is a non-creeping tuber of the potato group. It is nutritious and is commonly used as a thickener. It has medicinal qualities as well.

Soti is a non-creeping tuber of the potato group and is often preserved as a kind of pickle. It is also a source of chewing gum. Soti will not grow successfully in Ráŕh and its food value is much less than that of arrowroot.


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