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 October 13 – 26 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the highest biomass production continues to be a small pocket of activity along the Arkansas River in southwest Kansas. Irrigated alfalfa is a major product in this region. There is a small area of moderate photosynthetic activity in east central and southeast Kansas. Moderate temperatures resulted in continued biomass production in these areas. Very low NDVI values are visible in Trego, Ellis, Rush, and Ness counties, and have expanded into Pawnee and Barton counties, where drought conditions have intensified.
Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for October 13 – 26 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows much of the state with lower photosynthetic activity. Only the Southwest and South Central Divisions have similar to slightly higher photosynthetic activity. These areas continue to have beneficial moisture, while the rest of the state has been dry. This does not show the impact of the rains that fell last week as it will take several weeks for the impacts to be visible, and the growing season is ending.
Figure 3. Compared to the 26-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for October 13 – 26 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that most of the state continues to show near average photosynthetic activity. The Southwest and South Central Divisions have areas of above-average photosynthetic activity as moisture continues to be above average. From central through southeast Kansas lower NDVI values dominate. These areas continue to miss most of the storm systems, and moderate drought and abnormal dry conditions continue to expand.
Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the Corn Belt for October 13 – 26 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows the area of greatest photosynthetic activity is concentrated in the southern parts of the region. Favorable moisture conditions in these areas have resulted in high photosynthetic activity. Lower NDVI values are present from North Dakota through Iowa to Illinois and Ohio, as crops continue to mature and freezing temperatures end the growing season.
Figure 5. The comparison to last year in the Corn Belt for the period for October 13 – 26 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows lower photosynthetic activity centered the Central Plains, as an extended dry period has slowed plant development, particularly with winter grains. Drought conditions continue to expand in this area. There is a small area of higher NDVI values in central South Dakota and eastern Ohio where moisture has been more favorable this year.
Figure 6. Compared to the 26-year average at this time for the Corn Belt, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for October 13 – 26 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows most of the region has average biomass production. Above-average photosynthetic activity can be seen in the Northern Plains, where temperatures have continued mild and moisture has been favorable. Parts of Kansas and Missouri stand out with lower NDVI values as warmer-than-average temperatures and low precipitation stress vegetation.
Figure 7. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S for October 13 – 26 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the area of highest photosynthetic activity is east of the Mississippi River, where favorable temperatures have extended the growing season. Lower NDVI values are noticeable the Ohio River Valley and along the Mississippi River, where crops have matured early. Low NDVI values are also notable in the Inner Mountain West, as the colder temperatures begin to be felt.
Figure 8. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for the period October 13 – 26 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that lower NDVI values are most evident from the Central Plains to the Gulf Cost. Crop development in much of the region is ahead of average, while fall moisture has been limited until this last week. In Arkansas moderate to exceptional drought had covered most of the state. Vegetation has yet to respond to the rains at the end of last week. In the West, lower NDVI values are visible in eastern Montana and much lower in western Washington, which had more favorable precipitation last year. Little change is evident in Oregon and Northern California, where drought remains unchanged from last year.
Figure 9. The U.S. comparison to the 26-year average for the period October 13 – 26 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the Southern Plains have lower-than-normal photosynthetic activity, while the greatest increase in NDVI values is in New England. Mild temperatures in the Great Lakes region have extended the growing season. Much below-average NDVI values in western Washington prevail as moisture continues to be limited.
Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library
Kevin Price, Professor Emeritus, Agronomy and Geography
Nan An, former Graduate Research Assistant, Agronomy