Soil and Climate for Horticulture Crops

Horticulture Guruji

Soil and Climate for Horticulture Crops

Basic Horticulture

Soil and climate are both parts of nature without which plants cannot be imagined to occur. Just as soil provides support for plants to grow, the climate provides favourable climatic conditions for them to grow. Therfore, it can be said that plants require only two things, soil, and climate.


The coarse, medium, and finely organic or inorganic mixed particles on the upper surface of the earth which are helpful in plant growth are called soil. It is formed by weathering (destruction) of the rocks, which contains minerals such as Quartz, Feldspars, Micas, Hornblende, Calcite, and Gypsum.

Weathering is done by physical, chemical, and biological activities. Physical Activities like wind, water, and Ice. Chemical activities such as Oxidation, Reduction, Solution, Hydrolysis, Hydration and Carbonation (Acid action of carbonic acid) and biological factors such as humans and animals.

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Type of Soil

1. Alluvial soil

This type of soil is formed from silt brought by rivers during the rainy season, the soil contains less organic matter but a good amount of potash. These soils are slightly alkaline than normal. Good production of guava, jackfruit, berries, and khirni can be taken in such soil. The deposition of CaCo3 in older alluvial soils leads to the formation of a hard layer resulting in less infiltration of water into such soils. Salty alkaline soil is formed due to the hard layer of CaCo3. This type of soil is also known as ‘Usar’ and ‘Reh’.

2. Tarai soils

This type of soil is found in the states of the foothills of the Himalayas like Uttarakhand, Bihar, and West Bengal. These soils are deep and fertile. It also has a high water level. This soil is suitable for grasses, it is also good for fruit trees such as mango, litchi, orange, etc.

3. Arid soil

These soils are found in areas of water scarcity in the northern part of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, and Gujarat. Due to lack of moisture, shrubby, thorny, and ephemeral plants grow in this area. The transfer of sand from one place to another is the main feature of this region. Due to the hard layer of CaCo3 in the ground, the trees are difficult to grow in such areas. This type of soil has a lot of soluble salts and the soil pH is from 8.0 to 8.8. There is also a shortage of organic matter. Plum, Date, Aonla, Kher, Lasoda, Fig, Khejdi, etc. trees can be grown in this type of soil.

4. Black soil

Black soil is commonly found in Maharashtra. Which is heavy and loamy to clayey and it becomes sticky when wet and hard after drying. It is moderately alkaline with a pH ranging from 7.2 to 9.0. This soil lacks nitrogen and organic matter. Fruit trees like lemon, banana, sapota, and mango can be grown.

5. Red soils

This soil appears red due to Fe2O (iron oxide). This soil found in every state of the country. This soil is deficient in nutrients. Red soils are shallow and have less clay contain. Red soil also has a very low water holding capacity. It is acidic or alkaline. In this soil, a lot of fruits and vegetables are grown from coconut, areca nut, black pepper, etc.

6. Laterite soil

This soil is sandy and porous, contains little amount of organic matter and nutrients, but is rich in aluminum, and iron oxide. This soil also has low water holding capacity and low pH. Tea, coffee, rubber, cashew nuts, etc. can be grown in this type of soil.

7. Marshy Soil

Mossy soils occur in areas with high rainfall and are acidic. The acidity of this soil is due to the sulphuric acid produced by the decomposition of organic matter in an anaerobic state. During rainy days, it is submerged, it is black in colour, and clay is found in large amounts in this type of soil. There is an abundance of aluminium and ferrous sulphate. In such soil, species like Eugenia and Syzygium can be grown.

Soil for horticulture crops should have the following qualities

  • It should be fertile and well-drained.
  • It should be deep for the trees.
  • The water table in the soil 4 m or it should be deeper.
  • It should have the capacity to hold nutrients and water.
  • It should be neutral and pH should be between 5 to 7.5.
  • It should not have a hard soil layer, high salt, and a high-water table.



It denotes the average condition of weather prevailing over a large area. Temperature, Humidity, rainfall, solar radiation, and wind are the principal constituents of climate. Climate can be divided as follows: –

1. Temperate climate

The temperature in such areas goes below the freezing point in winter. Plants defoliate to avoid damage from low temperatures and the plants fulfill the chilling requirement for their subsequent growth. In such climatic regions, the land is covered with snow for 3 to 5 months. In summer, the temperature of these areas ranges from 100 to 140 and humidity ranges from 80 to 100%. Such areas are at an altitude of 1800m to 3500m above mean sea level. In this type of climate, fruits like apple, pear, peach, plum, walnut, apricot. Vegetables like potato, cabbage, root vegetables, peas, celery, lettuce, mushroom, and flowers like rose, orchid, marigold, etc. are cultivated.

2. Tropical Climate

In climatic regions where there is not much difference between summer and winter, hot and humid temperatures are the special identity of such climate. There is no significant difference between night and day temperatures and humidity is also high. Average temperatures range between 220 degrees to 270 degrees. Such climatic regions are found at an altitude of 300 to 900 meters from sea level. Fruits like mango, banana, papaya, pineapple, jackfruit, onion, chili, tomato, sweet potato, curry leaves, ginger, pumpkin, cucumber, and flowers like tuberose, jasmine, gladiolus are cultivated in such areas.

3. Subtropical Climate

Hot and dry summers and cool and moist winters are characteristic of this climate. In such a climate, there is also a great difference in the temperature of night and day. In such climatic regions, rainfall is low to moderate. Temperatures go from 350 to 400 in summer and from 00 to 100 in winter. And during monsoon, humidity is up to 100%. These areas are found from altitude 900 to 1800m above sea level. Fruits like citrus, figs, guava, and pomegranate. Vegetables such as peas, pumpkin, tomato, brinjal, chili, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and flowers like rose, chrysanthemum, tuberose, mogra, and seed spices are grown in this region.

Different types of the Horticulturally potential zone of the country

  1. Temperate Zone: – Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, parts of Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, Nilgiris, and Palani hills of Tamil Nadu.
  2. North-Western Subtropical Zone: – Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh come under it.
  3. North Eastern Sub-tropical Zone: – West Bengal, part of Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh.
  4. Central Tropical Zone: Parts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Orissa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka are covered under it.
  5. Southern Tropical Zone: – Parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala are covered under it.
  6. Coastal / Tropical Zone:- Coastal parts of Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, parts of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Tripura, Mizoram, parts of Gujarat along the sea, Andaman and Nicobar.


Influence of climate factors on the growth of plants

Temperature: –

Temperature is a very important factor that affects growth. Both low and high-temperature influence plant growth. Wide-leaved evergreen plants are affected by low temperatures. Such plants can die if the temperature is below 5 degrees C. While the deciduous plants defend themselves by dropping their leaves in such weather.

Many temperate plants require a few hours of 700 C or less temperature for flowering, which is called the chilling requirement of those plants. If temperate plants get a temperature of 400 Celsius, their leaves will scorch and the plants do not have flowering. Generally, plants require a temperature of 230 to 270 Celsius.


Due to humidity, there is a qualitative increase in the plants. Kharif season plants and vegetables grow only due to high humidity. The colour of the fruits, total soluble solids (TSS), the sugar-acid ratio is good at low humidity. The orange peel is thinner and the juice in it is more at high humidity. There is more outbreak of diseases in plants due to high humidity. Fruits cracking due to less and more humidity.

Wind: –

Both wind speed and temperature affect plants. Due to the hot air, the leaves scorch, and high air velocity due to which the fruits fell the plants are uprooted or their twigs are broken, pollinator insects run away due to which the flowers are not pollinated and yield is reduced.


Rain is very important for the growth and production of plants. But at the time of pollination, pollen particles are washed away due to rain, and production is reduced.

Solar radiation:-

Solar radiation is the source of energy in plants. Plants make their food using solar radiations which reach each part of the plant and then the plant grows. That’s why there is more fruiting on the parts of the plants towards the southern direction.

Heat unit

Plants use heat units for their growth and development. In horticulture, heat units are commonly used to determine the maturity of the fruits. The maturity of the fruit is determined according to the degree of heat unit used by the fruit trees. In a particular state of plants, temperatures above a base temperature are counted. Temperatures are calculated yearly or monthly. 100 C temperature is considered the base temperature. Heat unit is counts in degree celsius days or degree days. The calculations are done as follows –

Heat unit, Degree days = (M – 10) X N

Where,  M-   Mean monthly temperature

              10-   Base temperature

              N-    Number of days in a particular month


Mean Monthly Temperature  

May month Dates

The average temperature of the day (Degree Celsius)































































Total Day = 31

Total Temp. =11020C


                                                                       Total Temperature

Average mean temp. of May =  ______________________

                                                                        Total days (Month)



              =   __________       = 35.540 C



Heat Unit       =(35.54-10) X 31

                        =25.54 X 31

                      = 791.74 Degree Days

References cited

1.Chadha, K.L. Handbook of Horticulture (2002) ICAR, NewDelhi

2.Jitendra Singh Basic Horticulture (2011) Kalyani Publications, New Delhi

3.K.V.Peter Basics Horticulture (2009) New India Publishing Agency

4. Jitendra Singh Fundamentals of Horticulture, Kalyani Publications, New Delhi

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