Jowar is the third important food crop of the country after rice and wheat both in terms of area and production. It is an indigenous plant of Africa. The plant has a tendency to be grown in adverse climatic conditions. Its grains are rich in carbohydrate, protein, minerals and vitamin and hence provide cheap food to a large section of the poor population. It is also used as fodder crop in many parts of the country.
Conditions of Growth
Jowar is a tropical crop. It grows well at a temperature between 27° and 32°C but temperature condition below 16°C is harmful for the crop. Jowar requires a moderate rainfall between 30 and 65 cm. It is a popular crop of dry farming regions. Excessive moisture (above 100 cm) and prolonged droughts are harmful.
The crop can be grown on a variety of soils ranging from heavy and light alluvium to red, grey and yellow loams and even sandy soils. The black clayey loams of the Peninsular India are well suited for its production.
It is grown both as a dry and an irrigated crop. Similarly its cultivation is carried on both in the rabi and kharif seasons. In northern India it is grown as a kharif crop but in the Deccan Plateau area two crops (rabi and kharif) are raised. The crop requires good surface drainage.
Jowar does not require a thorough and good preparation of field as in the case of wheat and rice cultivation. The seeds are mostly sown broadcast or dibbled. It requires 4 to 5 months for maturity of the crop.
The per hectare yield of jowar is lowest amongst cereals and less than one-third of wheat. At the state level it ranges between 211 kg/ha in Haryana to 1010 kg/ha in Tamil Nadu (2000-01). Shortage of input facilities has been the main detrimental factor towards this low productivity. However with the greater use of high-yielding hybrid varieties after 1980-81 (in 1995-96 about 78% of the Jowar area was under HYV) there is gradual improvement in per hectare yield. V depicts gradual decline in the cropped area of the Jowar which has badly affected its production. Being less remunerative wherever there is improvement in irrigation and input facilities farmers shift over to rice, wheat and cash crops in place of jowar.