Authors: Mary Knapp, Kevin Price, Nan An
K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory (EASAL) produces weekly Vegetation Condition Report maps. These maps can be a valuable tool for making crop selection and marketing decisions.
Two short videos of Dr. Kevin Price explaining the development of these maps can be viewed on YouTube at:
The objective of these reports is to provide users with a means of assessing the relative condition of crops and grassland. The maps can be used to assess current plant growth rates, as well as comparisons to the previous year and relative to the 25-year average. The report is used by individual farmers and ranchers, the commodities market, and political leaders for assessing factors such as production potential and drought impact across their state.
NOTE TO READERS: The maps below represent a subset of the maps available from the EASAL group. If you’d like digital copies of the entire map series please contact Kevin Price at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can place you on our email list to receive the entire dataset each week as they are produced. The maps are normally first available on Wednesday of each week, unless there is a delay in the posting of the data by EROS Data Center where we obtain the raw data used to make the maps. These maps are provided for free as a service of the Department of Agronomy and K-State Research and Extension.
The maps in this issue of the newsletter show the current state of photosynthetic activity in Kansas, the Corn Belt, and the continental U.S., with comments from Mary Knapp, service climatologist:
Figure 1. The Vegetation Condition Report for Kansas for February 11 – 24 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that snow continues to be a factor for much of the state. This snow cover hasn’t been continuous, and hasn’t had a huge impact on moisture totals. The Northeastern Division has had the greatest moisture totals, and that came in the form of rain.
Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for February 11 – 24 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows the vegetation isn’t as active in the eastern half of the state. Cool temperatures have hindered development. In parts of western and south central KS vegetative activity is higher. This is particularly visible in Greeley County in western Kansas, and Barber County in south central Kansas.
Figure 3. Compared to the 25-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for February 11 – 24 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows NDVI readings are very close to average statewide. Above-average activity is most visible in the Southwestern Division. While temperatures are still cooler than average for the period, it has been the warmest region in the state.
Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the Corn Belt for February 11 – 24 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that winter hasn’t given up its grip on the region. Snow was a feature periodically during the period. The snow cover has retreated from the southern parts of the region, but persists from Iowa to the Great Lakes and west from Nebraska through the Dakotas.
Figure 5. The comparison to last year in the Corn Belt for the period February 11 – 24 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows a split, with the western areas showing greater photosynthetic activity and the eastern reach showing much less. Last year, the entire state of South Dakota was in at least moderate drought. This year, 95 percent of the state is drought-free. In the eastern areas of the Corn Belt, the issue isn’t drought conditions but persistent cold temperatures and lingering snow.
Figure 6. Compared to the 25-year average at this time for the Corn Belt, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for February 11 – 24 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that lower-than-average biomass production is present from eastern Iowa across northern Illinois and Indiana. On the other hand, South Dakota is showing greater-than-average photosynthetic activity. Snow is one of the major factors. Aberdeen, SD averages 7.6 inches of snow for February. This year, it has recorded only 1.5 inches. In contrast, Dubuque, IA averages 9.2 inches in February, but has recorded 14.1 inches this February.
Figure 7. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S. for February 11 – 24 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that snow continued to be seen as far south as northern Georgia. Persistence in the southern parts of the U.S. was very limited, with most vanishing the next day.
Figure 8. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for the period February 11 – 24 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the sharp differences in photosynthetic activity between the Western and Eastern regions of the country continues. The West has seen below-average snowfall, while the east has seen above-average snowfall coupled with cooler-than-average temperatures. This has enhanced photosynthetic activity in the west and limited it in the east, particularly in the stretch from eastern Iowa through New York.
Figure 9. The U.S. comparison to the 25-year average for the period February 11 – 24 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the milder temperatures and lower snowfall amounts has enhanced photosynthetic activity in the Mountain West. In contrast, the impact of colder temperatures and persistent snow is particularly visible in Pennsylvania, where photosynthetic activity is much below average.
Mary Knapp, Agronomy, Weather Data Library
Kevin Price, Agronomy and Geography, Remote Sensing, Natural Resources, GIS
Nan An, Graduate Research Assistant, Ecology & Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory (EASAL)