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 26-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 Nan An at email@example.com 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, assistant state climatologist:
Figure 1. The Vegetation Condition Report for Kansas for April 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that spring plant development continues to increase along the Missouri border in eastern Kansas. The greatest level of photosynthetic activity is concentrated in the Southeastern Division, particularly in the area from Neosho to Cherokee counties.
Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for April 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows the eastern border counties have much greater photosynthetic activity than last year. This is also true in southwest Kansas and in parts of central Kansas. The Northwest and North Central Divisions have much lower photosynthetic activity. These areas had lower winter precipitation. There is also lower photosynthetic activity in Sumner and Harper counties. Much of this decrease is due to the damage from the April 4th freeze.
Figure 3. Compared to the 26-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for April 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that there is a large area of below-normal biomass production across the Northern Divisions and through the Central and South Central Divisions. The combination of dry conditions, winterkill, and a late spring freeze have reduced photosynthetic activity in these areas.
Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the Corn Belt for April 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that there are areas of increased biomass production in southwestern Missouri and central Kentucky, as well as in northern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. The increased production in the southern portions of the region are due to favorable moisture and temperatures. The increase in production in the north is due to decreased snow pack, with more vegetation exposed. There is an area of decreased production in southern Illinois and western Kentucky. This is due to persistent cloud cover which has masked the photosynthetic activity.
Figure 5. The comparison to last year in the Corn Belt for the period April 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that there are two areas with large departures. The northern Great Lakes region has much higher photosynthetic activity. This is due to lower snow cover than last year. The low NDVI values in southern Illinois and western Kentucky are due to the persistent cloud cover in these areas.
Figure 6. Compared to the 26-year average at this time for the Corn Belt, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for April 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows an area of below-average photosynthetic activity in southern Illinois and western Kentucky. Persistent cloud cover has masked photosynthetic activity in the region. In contrast, the below-average photosynthetic activity in northern and central Kansas is due to impacts from the increasing drought and severe winterkill, particularly in winter wheat.
Figure 7. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S. for April 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that a high level of photosynthetic activity persists in the Pacific Northwest. There is low photosynthetic activity east of California, and along the Northern Plains. From southern Illinois into western Kentucky and Tennessee right through the central Mississippi Valley, abundant moisture has created flooding problems and reduced plant development.
Figure 8. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for the period April 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that there is increased photosynthetic activity in the north and in the Southern Plains, with decreased activity in the southeast. For the northern areas, lower snow cover continues to leave more vegetation than usual exposed, resulting in higher NDVI values. In the Southern Plains, favorable moisture has resulted in increased photosynthetic activity. On the other hand, persistent cloud cover in the southeast has masked photosynthetic activity in this area.
Figure 9. The U.S. comparison to the 26-year average for the period April 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows a large area in the southeast with below-average biomass production. This is due primarily to persistent precipitation in the region. The below-average production in Kansas is due to a combination of dry conditions and cold temperature injury. In the Pacific Northwest, the above-average photosynthetic activity continues. This highlights the low snow cover in these areas and increases concerns for water supply as summer approaches.
Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library
Kevin Price, Professor Emeritus, Agronomy and Geography, Remote Sensing, GIS
Nan An, Graduate Research Assistant, Ecology & Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory (EASAL)