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 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, assistant state climatologist:
Figure 1. The Vegetation Condition Report for Kansas for July 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the area of greatest biomass production continues to be in the eastern third of the state. There also tends to be higher photosynthetic activity along the river basins in western Kansas, particularly along the Arkansas River. Rainfall in this area has been above normal all season.
Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for July 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows western Kansas has higher photosynthetic activity. Rainfall has been above average in this area for the entire growing season. There is a sharp drop in biomass production compared to last year in the eastern areas of west central into central Kansas. These regions have had lower-than-normal precipitation in the last 6 weeks.
Figure 3. Compared to the 26-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for July 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that most of the state has average to above average biomass production. The biggest decrease in production is in parts of Graham, Rooks, Phillips, and northeastern Ness counties. These areas have missed out on much of the rainfall that has been recorded in the rest of the state. The impacts from recent rains are not yet visible.
Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the Corn Belt for July 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the greatest photosynthetic activity runs from central Nebraska through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Favorable precipitation and temperatures have spurred biomass production in these areas.
Figure 5. The comparison to last year in the Corn Belt for the period July 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that from eastern Illinois to western Ohio, biomass production has been suppressed. Excess moisture is a major culprit in the lower biomass production. In contrast, areas from Nebraska through southern Minnesota have benefitted from a favorable weather pattern and show much higher photosynthetic activity than last year.
Figure 6. Compared to the 26-year average at this time for the Corn Belt, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for July 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the eastern portions continue to see the impact of excess moisture have generally below-average biomass production. In contrast, the favorable moisture in the western portions of the region have resulted in above-average levels of photosynthetic activity.
Figure 7. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S. for July 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the greatest level of photosynthetic activity is concentrated in the Northern Plains and New England. Lower biomass production is visible in the Pacific Northwest into Montana.
Figure 8. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for the period July 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the Pacific Northwest has much lower biomass production.The expanding drought is greatly reducing photosynthetic activity in the region. In California, the lower photosynthetic activity is confined to the northern parts of the state. Biomass production was low last year in much of the state, and there has been little change. Increased photosynthetic activity is most notable in the western High Plains, where a much wetter pattern has prevailed this year. The lower photosynthetic activity in the Midwest is mainly due to excess moisture.
Figure 9. The U.S. comparison to the 26-year average for the period July 7 – 20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that higher-than-average biomass production dominates the Plains from South Dakota through Texas. In contrast, the Pacific Northwest has much lower-than-average photosynthetic activity, as drought intensifies in this region. Pockets of below-average photosynthetic activity are also visible in western Florida, where drought is also intensifying. In contrast, the area of below-average photosynthetic activity centered in Indiana is due more to excess moisture than drought.
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)