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 January 28 – February 10 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that snow covered the entire state during at last part of this two-week composite period. The heaviest snowfall occurred on the 4-5th of February, when snowfall amounts ranged from 2 inches in the west to 16 inches in the east.
Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for January 28 – February 10 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows there is a pronounced splice line in the east. This is due to cloud contamination. Without that, the region would be closer to average, compared to last year. Note the large area of lower productivity in the central and south central divisions this year. Much of that is due to the cooler temperatures experienced this year.
Figure 3. Compared to the 25-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for January 28 – February 10 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows the pronounce splice line in the east. Slightly above average NDVI values are seen in the North Central Division and in parts of Geary and Wabaunsee counties.
Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the Corn Belt for January 28 – February 10 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that snow influenced the entire region. Heaviest amounts have been in the eastern areas of the region. Snowfall total for February in Springfield, IL stands at 10 inches. In contrast, Kearney, NE has had only 4 inches in February, and Bismarck, ND has reported only 0.3 inches.
Figure 5. The comparison to last year in the Corn Belt for the period January 28 – February 10 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows a splice line in eastern KS. Areas of lower biomass activity are in the eastern portions of the region, where conditions are much colder and snowier than last year. Higher NDVI values in the western areas of the Corn Belt have a couple of causes. In southern Iowa, improved drought conditions have favored vegetative activity, despite the heavier snowpack this year. Last year there was essentially no snow on the ground and 100 percent of the state was in moderate drought or worse. This year the area of moderate drought or worsen is only 53 percent.
Figure 6. Compared to the 25-year average at this time for the Corn Belt, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for January 28 – February 10 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows the central part of the region has higher biomass activity then average. The below-average slice in eastern KS is due to cloud contamination rather than actual vegetative condition. The lower NDVI values in the eastern portion of the region are due higher snowfall activity.
Figure 7. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S. for January 28 – February 10 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that snowfall had an impact all the way to the Gulf Coast. The unusual weather had major impacts in the Southern states. However, the snowfall in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles had little impact on the persistent drought in the region.
Figure 8. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for the period January 28 – February 10 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the splice line in eastern Kansas extends to northern Texas and Louisiana. Lower NDVI values are notable in the east, while higher NDVI values are more noteworthy in the west. Despite a significant winter storm in the Pacific Northwest at the end of this period, snow pack remains lower than last year. Last year, the average snow depth in the Pacific Northwest was 26 inches. This year it is just 12 inches.
Figure 9. The U.S. comparison to the 25-year average for the period January 28 – February 10 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that that NDVI readings are lower than average in the east, while there are areas of above-average NDVI readings in the Northern Plains and the Pacific Northwest. Snow cover has been less persistent in the Northern Plains, and continues to be much below average in the Pacific Northwest. The area of below-average vegetation readings from eastern Kansas through northern Louisiana is actually the result of cloud contamination and not reflective of the actual vegetative conditions, which are close to 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)