Uzbekistan was the former Soviet Union's largest producer of fruits and vegetables. About 15% of the total area is crop land. In 2001, about 33% of GDP and 42% of exports came from agriculture.
During the Soviet era, cotton was grown on almost half of all sown land. Cotton is grown in the crescent beginning in the Fergana Valley and extending south along the Tien Shan Mountains to Samarkand and Bokhara, and then west along the Amu Darya River. All cotton is flood irrigated. Plantings are generally in April, with the harvest coming in late August or early September. Fields are usually planted with alfalfa or corn every four or five years, but many fields are planted without rotation, leading to declining yields. Since independence, Uzbekistan has embarked on a policy to diversify agriculture; annual cotton lint production was 1.1 million tons in 1999. Almost 40% of the gross value of agricultural production is derived from cotton; Uzbekistan was the world's fifth-largest producer of cotton lint in 2001/02 (after China, the United States, India, and Pakistan), accounting for 5% of world supply, but cotton production declined severely in 1999, and worldwide prices dropped as well, causing serious strain in this important segment of the Uzbek economy.
Rice, wheat, barley, and corn are important grain crops. Rice is produced on 48 specialized state farms, and about 85% of the rice crop comes from the southwestern part of Karakalpakistan and the Khorezm region. In 1999, over 4.3 million tons of cereals were produced. Sesame, tobacco, onions, flax, and various fruits are also grown.