There is no difference of opinion among jurists concerning the obligatory nature of zakah on plants and fruits. They do, however, differ on the kinds of plants and fruits which should be subject to zakah. Here is the broad spectrum of opinions on the subject:
Al-Hasan al-Basri and ash-Shu’abi hold that zakah is only on the specified items (in the Qur’an and sunnah) – that is corn, dates, and raisins – since other kinds are not mentioned. Ash-Shaukani upholds this view.
Abu Hanifah maintains that zakah is due on every type of produce of the land including vegetables, but excluding what is not intentionally planted and cultivated such as firewood, bamboo, grass, and those trees which bear no fruit. His opinion is based upon the general meaning of the Prophet’s saying: “From what the heavens irrigate, a tithe [is due].” The meaning is general and encompasses all types of arable products, which are planted to make the land grow, and therefore refers to any agricultural practices similar to the growing of grains (habb).
Abu Yusuf and Muhammad hold that zakah is payable on every product of the land, provided it lasts the whole year without too much care or treatment. This includes produce measured by capacity, such as grains, or by mass, such as cotton and sugar. If the produce does not last a whole year, such as the two kinds of cucumber (quththa’ and khiyar), watermelons and others of their kind, there is no zakah on them.
Malik holds that zakah is payable on that which is produced on the land and which stays, becomes dry, and is planted by human beings. This includes land produce used as nonperishable food (muqtat), such as safflower and sesame seeds. According to him, there is no zakah on vegetables and fruits such as figs, pomegranates and apples. Ash-Shaf’i maintains that zakah is payable on any produce, provided the resulting crop is used as regular food which can be stored and planted by human beings, such as grains and barley.
An-Nawawi says: “Our opinion is that there is no zakah on any trees other than palm and grapevines. There is also no zakah on grains other than the one which is or can be stored, and no zakah on vegetables.” Ahmad is of the opinion that there is zakah on everything that Allah causes the land to produce, such as grains and fruits, that can be dried, preserved, measured and planted by human beings, whether they be considered non-perishable foods, such as wheat and qutniyyat (including peas, beans, lentils and such other grains), or spices and herbs (ahariz), such as coriander, caraway seeds, or seeds such as linseed of the fluz plant (kittan seeds), the seeds of the two kinds of cucumber (quththa’ and khiyar), or safflower and sesame seeds.
According to Ahmad, zakah is also payable on dry fruits such as dates, raisins, apricots, figs, almonds, hazel nuts, and pistachio nuts if the preceding specifications apply to them. There is no zakah on fresh fruit such as peaches, pears, apples, apricots, and figs. In the same way, it is not due on vegetables such as the two kinds of cucumber, watermelons, eggplants, turnips, and carrots.