A crop is a non-animal species or variety that is grown to be harvested as food, livestock fodder, fuel or for any other economic purpose. Major world crops include maize (corn), wheat, rice, soybeans, hay, potatoes and cotton. While the term "crop" most commonly refers to plants, it can also include species from other biological kingdoms. For example, mushrooms like shiitake, which are in the fungi kingdom, can be referred to as crops. In addition, certain species of algae are also cultivated, although it is also harvested from the wild. In contrast, animal species that are raised by humans are called livestock, except those that are kept as pets. Microbial species, such as bacteria or viruses, are referred to as cultures. Microbes are not typically grown for food, but are rather used to alter food. For example, bacteria is used to ferment milk to produce yogurt.
Crop weeds are weeds that grow amongst crops. Examples of crop weeds include chickweed, barnyard grass and dandelion. The dandelion, while sometimes used as a food source, can also prove harmful to crops. Crop weeds can inhibit the growth of crops, contaminate harvested crops and often spread rapidly. They can also host crop pests such as aphids, fungal rots and viruses.
Break crop is a term for the secondary crop within the practice of sustainable agriculture with intensive arable farming whereby as part of a crop rotation, a physiologically different crop is inserted into the main cropping plan in order to provide a "break" from the cycle of weeds, pests and diseases encountered with the latter. The aim is to optimize yields of the primary crops and therefore income while reducing the use, and cost, of pesticides. Nitrogen fixation can be another soil goal. An example rotation would be winter oilseed rape as a break crop, followed by two crops of winter wheat, then winter barley or setaside. Another common example is maize (corn) that is typically rotated with cotton plantations.
A bumper crop refers to a particularly productive harvest yielded for a particular crop. Example : "With all the rain we've had over the last few months, we are expecting a bumper crop this year." The word "bumper" has a second definition meaning "something unusually large," which is where this term comes from
A cash crop is a crop which is grown for profit. The term is used to differentiate from subsistence crops, which are those fed to the producer's own livestock or grown as food for the producer's family. In earlier times cash crops were usually only a small (but vital) part of a farm's total yield, while today, especially in the developed countries, almost all crops are mainly grown for cash. In non-developed nations, cash crops are usually crops which attract demand in more developed nations, and hence have some export value. In many tropical and subtropical areas, jute, coffee, cocoa, sugar- cane, bananas, oranges and cotton are common cash crops. In cooler areas, grain crops, oil-yielding crops and some vegetables and herbs are predominate; an example of this is the United States, where corn, wheat, soybean are the predominant cash crops. Coca, poppies and cannabis are other popular black-market cash crops, the prevalence of which varies. In the United States cannabis is considered by some to be the most valuable cash crop.
A catch crop is a fast-growing crop that is grown simultaneously with, or between successive plantings of a main crop. For example, radishes that mature from seed in 25–30 days can be grown between rows of most vegetables, and harvested long before the main crop matures. Or, a catch crop can be planted between the spring harvest and fall planting of some crops. Catch cropping is a type of succession planting. It makes more efficient use of growing space. Catch crops are also crops that are sown to prevent minerals being flushed away from the soil. By using catch crops, such as grain (millet, ...) one can keep certain minerals not attached to the humous-clay connection (such as carbon (C) and other positively charged elements) in the soil for (many) years.
Cover crops are crops planted primarily to manage soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife in agroecosystems (Lu et al. 2000), ecological systems managed and largely shaped by humans across a range of intensities to produce food, feed, or fiber. Cover crops are of interest in sustainable agriculture as many of them improve the sustainability of agro-ecosystem attributes and may also indirectly improve qualities of neighboring natural ecosystems. Farmers choose to grow and manage specific cover crop types based on their own needs and goals, influenced by the biological, environmental, social, cultural, and economic factors of the food system within which farmers operate (Snapp et al. 2005)
Crop diversity is the variance in genetic and phenotypic characteristics of plants used in agriculture. Crops may vary in seed size, branching pattern, in height, flower color, fruiting time, or flavor. They may also vary in less obvious characteristics such as their response to heat, cold or drought, or their ability to resist specific diseases and pests. It is possible to discover variation in almost every conceivable trait, including nutritional qualities, preparation and cooking techniques, and of course how a crop tastes. And if a trait cannot be found in the crop itself, it can often be found in a wild relative of the crop; a plant that has similar species that have not been farmed or used in agriculture, but exist in the wild.
There are two types of agricultural crop residues : Field residues are materials left in an agricultural field or orchard after the crop has been harvested. These residues include stalks and stubble (stems), leaves, and seed pods. Good management of field residues can increase efficiency of irrigation and control of erosion. Process residues are those materials left after the processing of the crop into a usable resource. These residues include husks, seeds, bagasse, and roots. They can be used as animal fodder and soil amendment, fertilizers and in manufacturing.
Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar types of crop|s in the same area in sequential seasons for various benefits such as to avoid the build-up of pathogens and pests that often occurs when one species is continuously cropped. A traditional element of crop rotation is the replenishment of nitrogen through the use of green manure in sequence with cereals and other crops. Crop rotation can also improve soil structure and fertility by alternating deep-rooted and shallow-rooted plants. Crop rotation is one component of polyculture.
A crop wild relative ( CWR ) is a wild plant closely related to a domesticated plant. It may be a wild ancestor of the domesticated plant, or another closely related taxon.
The crop-lien system is a credit system that became widely used by farmers in the United States in the South from the 1860s to the 1920s. After the American Civil War, farmers in the South had little cash. The crop-lien system was a way for farmers to get credit before the planting season by borrowing against the value for anticipated harvests. Local merchants provided food and supplies all year long on credit; when the cotton crop was harvested farmers turned it over to the merchant to pay back their loan. Sometimes there was cash left over; when cotton prices were low, the crop did not cover the debt and the farmer started the next year in the red. The credit system was used by land owners, sharecroppers and tenant farmers.
An energy crop is a plant grown as a low cost and low maintenance harvest used to make biofuels, or combusted for its energy content to generate electricity or heat. Energy crops are generally categorized as woody or herbaceous (grassy). Commercial energy crops are typically densely planted, high yielding crop species where the energy crops will be burnt to generate power. Woody crops such as Willow or Poplar are widely utilised, as well as temperate grasses such as Miscanthus and Pennisetum purpureum (both known as elephant grass). If carbohydrate content is desired for the production of biogas, whole-crops such as maize, Sudan grass, millet, white sweet clover and many others, can be made into silage and then converted into biogas.
Fiber crops are field crops grown for their fibers, which are traditionally used to make paper, cloth, or rope. The fibers may be chemically modified, like in viscose or cellophane. In recent years materials scientists have begun exploring further use of these fibers in composite materials. Fiber crops are generally harvestable after a single growing season, as distinct from trees, which are typically grown for many years before being harvested for wood pulp fiber. In specific circumstances, fiber crops can be superior to wood pulp fiber in terms of technical performance, environmental impact or cost.
An industrial crop is a crop grown to produce goods to be used in the production sector, rather than food for consumption. Industrial crops impact the economy by providing a product which lessens the need for imports.
Intercropping is the practice of growing two or more crops in proximity. Alley cropping is the growing of crops in between the rows of trees. The most common goal of intercropping is to produce a greater yield on a given piece of land by making use of resources that would otherwise not be utilized by a single crop. Careful planning is required, taking into account the soil, climate, crops, and varieties. It is particularly important not to have crops competing with each other for physical space, nutrients, water, or sunlight. Examples of intercropping strategies are planting a deep-rooted crop with a shallow-rooted crop, or planting a tall crop with a shorter crop that requires partial shade. Inga alley- cropping has been proposed as an alternative to the ecological destruction of Slash-and-burn farming.
Mixed intercropping, as the name implies, is the most basic form in which the component crops are totally mixed in the available space. Row cropping involves the component crops arranged in alternate rows. This may also be called alley cropping. A variation of row cropping is strip cropping, where multiple rows, or a strip, of one crop are alternated with multiple rows of another crop. Intercropping also uses the practice of sowing a fast growing crop with a slow growing crop, so that the fast growing crop is harvested before the slow growing crop starts to mature. This obviously involves some temporal separation of the two crops. Further temporal separation is found in relay cropping, where the second crop is sown during the growth, often near the onset of reproductive development or fruiting, of the first crop, so that the first crop is harvested to make room for the full development of the second.
Multiple cropping is the practice of growing two or more crops in the same space during a single growing season. It is a form of polyculture. It can take the form of double-cropping , in which a second crop is planted after the first has been harvested, or relay cropping , in which the second crop is started amidst the first crop before it has been harvested. A related practice, companion planting, is sometimes used in gardening and intensive cultivation of vegetables and fruits. One example of multi-cropping is tomatoes + onions + marigold; the marigolds repel some tomato pests. Multiple cropping is found in many agricultural traditions. In the Garhwal Himalaya of India, a practice called baranaja involves sowing 12 or more crops on the same plot, including various types of beans, grams, and millets, and harvesting them at different times .
A nurse crop is an annual crop used to assist in establishment of a perennial crop. The widest use of nurse crops is in the establishment of legumaceous plants such as alfalfa, clover, and trefoil. Occasionally nurse crops are used for establishment of perennial grasses. Nurse crops reduce the incidence of weeds, prevent erosion, and prevent excessive sunlight from reaching tender seedlings. Often the nurse crop can be harvested for grain, straw, hay, or pasture. Oats are the most common nurse crop, though other annual grains are also used.
A permanent crop is one produced from plants which last for many seasons, rather than being replanted after each harvest. As used in The World Factbook land use statistics the term comprises land cultivated for crops like citrus, olives, coffee, and rubber; it includes land under flowering shrubs, fruit trees, nut trees, and vines, but excludes land under trees grown for wood or timber.
Protein crops are crops that provide substantial protein, a large class of naturally occurring complex combinations of amino acids. Such crops, including various oilseeds and grains, are important in meeting the nutrient requirements of farm animals. EU Common Agricultural Policy designates certain protein crops as eligible for support, such as peas, field beans, and sweet lupins.
Share cropping is a system of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crop produced on the land (e.g. 50% of the crop). This should not be confused with a crop fixed rent contract, in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a fixed amount of crop per unit of land (e.g. 1 Tonne per hectare). Sharecropping has a long history and there are a wide range of different situations and types of agreements that have encompassed the system. Some are governed by tradition, others by law. Legal contract systems such as the Italian mezzadria, the French métayage, and Spanish Mediero occur widely. Islamic law contains a traditional "musaqat" sharecropping agreement for the cultivation of orchards.
Neglected and underutilized crops are domesticated plant species that have been used for centuries or even millennia for their food, fibre, fodder, oil or medicinal properties, but have been reduced in importance over time owing to particular supply and use constraints. These can inter alia include poor shelf life, un-recognized nutritional value, poor consumer awareness and reputational problems ("poor people's food"). As the demand for plant and crop attributes changes (re-appraisal or discovery of nutritional traits, culinary value, adaptation to climate change, etc.), neglected crops can overcome the constraints to the wider production and use. As a matter of fact, many formerly neglected crops are now globally significant crops (oilpalm, soybean, kiwi fruit). Although the options for scaling-up neglected crops for large-scale agriculture appear to be increasingly exhausted, many species have the potential to contribute to food security, nutrition, dietary and culinary diversification, health and income generation. They also provide environmental services. It is impossible to define what would constitute "proper" or "correct" levels of utilization, however, it is evident that many neglected species are under-utilized relative to their nutritional value and productivity.
Marketing Channels of Ethnic crops in Toronto • Local Production • Import • International food stores • Some Chain stores • Flea Markets • Small Ethnic fruit &Veg. stands • Mobile vendors • Ethnic Restaurants