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 June 30 – July 13 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that vegetative activity continues to be higher 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 expanded into central and north central Kansas, particularly in Rooks and Ellis counties.
Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for June 30 – July 13 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows biomass production is lower across much of the north central parts of the state. Parts of extreme southwest Kansas have seen above average rainfall in the last two weeks, favoring development. 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 continues to hamper plant development in areas that have 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 30 – July 13 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, Trego, Ellis, and Rooks counties, where moderate drought persists. Abnormally dry conditions have expanded in the region. In contrast, the lower NDVI values in the East Central Division are due to continued higher-than-normal precipitation. The divisional average was 137 percent of normal.
Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the Corn Belt for June 30 – July 13 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that most of the region has high NDVI values overall. The highest level of photosynthetic activity is across northeastern Nebraska into western Iowa. Favorable temperatures and moisture have continued to encourage biomass production. The lowest values are in western Kansas, where a rapid reduction in precipitation is hampering vegetative development.
Figure 5. The comparison to last year in the Corn Belt for the period June 30 – July 13 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows a large portion of the eastern portion of the Corn Belt has much lower NDVI values. This means conditions are less optimal than last year. Cool, wet conditions are the major stress factor. Still, for example, in Illinois 79 percent of the pasture and 56 percent of the corn is in good to excellent condition.
Figure 6. Compared to the 26-year average at this time for the Corn Belt, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for June 30 – July 13 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows the greatest area of below-average biomass production is centered in central Minnesota, extending southeastward to northern Kentucky. Cool temperature and excess moisture continue to slow plant development in these areas.
Figure 7. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S. for June 30 – July 13 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows a high level of photosynthetic activity in the New England area and along the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Favorable temperatures have enhanced biomass production in these areas. There is also an area of high biomass production in western Colorado. Lower biomass production is notable in the valleys of California, where drought remains intense. Pockets of low biomass production in the Ohio River Valley are due to cooler temperatures and excess moisture.
Figure 8. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for the period June 30 – July 13 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows lower photosynthetic activity across much of the eastern U.S. In contrast to 2014, cool, wet weather continues to hamper plant development. Higher biomass production is visible in the central and southern High Plains from southeastern Colorado through west 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 30 – July 13 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the High Plains forms a dividing line between too little and too much precipitation. In the west, Washington stands out with higher-than-average biomass production, as early season moisture has reduced some of the drought impacts. In the central U.S., favorable moisture covers much of the region from western North Dakota through southern Texas, with higher-than-average biomass production as a result. Cool, wet weather from the Great Lakes through the Ohio River Valley has hampered vegetative production is these areas.
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)