There are many kinds of crops, including agronomic crops, feed crops, fuel crops, vegetable crops, and others.
Agronomic crops are typically grown for grain to feed people and livestock, or are processed into products, such as oil, starch, protein, and flour. Major agronomic crops in the United States include corn (grown for animal feed, ethanol, and processing), soybeans, wheat, hay (alfalfa, and legume and grass mixtures), rice, peanuts, and cotton.
Feed crops are grown specifically to meet the nutritional needs of livestock. They include “small grains” such as wheat, oats, barley, and rice, as well as taller grain crops like corn and sorghum.
In contrast to grain crops, alfalfa and other forage crops are grown for their stems, leaves, and other edible plant parts. Livestock either graze these crops in fields or eat stored forages. Stored forms include:
Energy crops are harvested for processing into biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, which are being developed as alternatives to fossil fuels.
Many people envision that vegetable crops are grown on small farms, for farmers markets. In reality, most vegetables are grown on large, specialized farms with many custom-designed pieces of machinery to help ease the labor. Many fields may cover hundreds of acres, and farms may be spread over several states to help insure a steady supply of fresh produce to the market.
In the United States, major vegetable crops include lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, squash, sweet corn, green beans and watermelon (watermelon is included here as it is grown like a row crop, on the ground).