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 June 23 - July 6 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that vegetative activity remains highest in the eastern third of the state and along and south of the Arkansas River Valley in southwest Kansas. The highest NDVI values in western Kansas are visible along the stream beds where favorable moisture continues to spur plant development. Low photosynthetic activity is most visible in west central Kansas, where high temperatures and low rainfall are stressing vegetation.
Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for June 23 – July 6 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows biomass production is lower across much of the western parts of the state. The exception is in the extreme southwestern areas from Hamilton County to Stevens County. Last year an extremely wet June favored vegetative growth, while this year many areas of the state had lower-than-normal June rainfall. Poor root development is hampering plant development in areas that switched rapidly from excessive moisture to little precipitation.
Figure 3. Compared to the 26-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for June 23 - July 6 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that most of the state has fairly average photosynthetic activity. The western divisions have the greatest increase over normal photosynthetic activity. Precipitation in this region is close to normal, and has favored plant development. Lower NDVI values are seen in Sheridan, Graham, Rooks and Trego counties, where moderate drought persists. In contrast, the lower NDVI values in the East Central Division are due to continued higher-than-normal precipitation. The divisional average for the last week was 2.21 inches or 213 percent of normal.
Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the Corn Belt for June 23 – July 6 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that most of the region has high NDVI values. The highest photosynthetic activity is across the northern areas of the region from Minnesota through northern Michigan. Favorable temperatures and moisture have continued to favor biomass production. The lowest values are in western Kansas, where a rapid switch to low precipitation is hampering vegetative development.
Figure 5. The comparison to last year in the Corn Belt for the period June 23 - July 6 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows a large increase in biomass production in North Dakota. Rainfall and temperatures continue to be favorable, accelerating plant growth in the area. In contrast, South Dakota has seen less favorable conditions this year.
Figure 6. Compared to the 26-year average at this time for the Corn Belt, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for June 23-July 6 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows the greatest decrease in biomass production is centered in Minnesota, extending westward. Another area of much lower-than-average photosynthetic activity extends along the Ohio River Valley into Southeastern Missouri. Excess moisture continues to slow plant development in these areas.
Figure 7. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S. for June 23 - July 6 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that highest level of photosynthetic activity continues to be in the New England area and along the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Plant development has been favored by the warmer-than-normal temperatures. There is also an area of high biomass production in western Colorado. Lower biomass production is notable in eastern Montana, eastern Colorado, and western Kansas.
Figure 8. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for the period June 23 – July 6 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows lower photosynthetic activity in across much of the Eastern U.S. Conditions in June of 2014 were much more favorable than this year, where cool, wet weather continues to hamper plant development. Higher biomass production is visible in the central and southern High Plains from southeastern Colorado through western Texas, where drought conditions have improved greatly. In the West, from Oregon through California, the changes have been minimal. Conditions were poor last year and continue to be poor this year.
Figure 9. The U.S. comparison to the 26-year average for the period June 23 – July 6 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows much of the country has closeto-average photosynthetic activity. Washington stands out with higher-than-average biomass production, as early season moisture has reduced some of the drought impacts. Favorable moisture in the eastern Plains of Colorado into the Panhandle of Texas continues to generate higher-than-average biomass production in this area as well. Lower-than-average production is concentrated in the Ohio River Valley, where cooler temperatures and saturated soils have slowed plant development.
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)