The Nilgiris District is basically a Horticulture District. Its economy is based on commodity crops such as tea, coffee and spices, followed in importance by potato, carrot, cabbage and other hill vegetables. Majority of the cultivated area is covered by tea plantation which grows at an elevation of 1,000 to over 2,500 metres above mean sea level.
The District is the major producer of temperate-zone vegetables. Potato and other vegetables are raised throughout the year in Udhagamandalam and Coonoor Taluks. Paddy (rice), ginger, pepper and rubber are grown in Gudalur and Pandalur Taluks. Paddy is also grown in the Thengumarahada area in Kotagiri Taluk. Besides these crops, millet, wheat and fruits are also cultivated throughout the District. The crops are mainly rain-fed. Check dams have been constructed wherever possible to exploit natural springs.