Authors: Mary Knapp, Ray Asebedo, Nan An

The weekly Vegetation Condition Report maps below can be a valuable tool for making crop selection and marketing decisions.

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 27-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.

The Vegetation Condition Report (VCR) maps were originally developed by Dr. Kevin Price, K-State professor emeritus of agronomy and geography. His pioneering work in this area is gratefully acknowledged.

The maps have recently been revised, using newer technology and enhanced sources of data. Dr. Nan An, Imaging Scientist, collaborated with Dr. Antonio Ray Asebedo, assistant professor and lab director of the Precision Agriculture Lab in the Department of Agronomy at Kansas State University, on the new VCR development. Multiple improvements have been made, such as new image processing algorithms with new remotely sensed data from EROS Data Center.

These improvements increase sensitivity for capturing more variability in plant biomass and photosynthetic capacity. However, the same format as the previous versions of the VCR maps was retained, thus allowing the transition to be as seamless as possible for the end user. For this spring, it was decided not to incorporate the snow cover data, which had been used in past years. However, this feature will be added back at a later date. In addition, production of the Corn Belt maps has been stopped, as the continental U.S. maps will provide the same data for these areas. Dr. Asebedo and Dr. An will continue development and improvement of the VCRs and other advanced maps.

The maps in this issue of the newsletter show the current state of photosynthetic activity in Kansas, and the continental U.S., with comments from Mary Knapp, assistant state climatologist:

Figure 1. The Vegetation Condition Report for Kansas for July 26 – August 1, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory continues to show high NDVI values across the eastern third of the state, as well as in pockets of central and southwest Kansas. The highest NDVI values are along the Missouri River in Brown and Doniphan counties. It is also interesting to see the higher NDVI values continue along the Republican River Basin in north central Kansas.
Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for July 26- August 1, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows the area of much higher photosynthetic activity is mostly in the southwestern areas of the state. Overall, the greatest increase in photosynthetic activity continues to be in western Kansas. Rainfall has been well distributed in the region and crop progress continues ahead of last year at this time. In north central Kansas, rainfall hasn’t been quite as well distributed as last year.
Figure 3. Compared to the 27-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for July 26 – August 1, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows the area of below-average vegetative activity is most evident in parts of northwest Kansas. Intermittent rains and more seasonal temperatures have reduced vegetative stress in much of the state.
Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S for July 26 – August 1, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows high NDVI values in the Western Corn Belt. Favorable rainfall and more seasonal temperatures favored photosynthetic activity across the region. In contrast, the western High Plains of South Dakota, eastern Montana, and eastern Wyoming continue to have reduced vegetative activity as drought intensifies in these areas. Vegetative activity is also reduced in parts of New England, where rainfall has been limited. This includes parts of Massachusetts, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania.
Figure 5. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for July 26 – August 1, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows that lower NDVI values are visible across much of the continental U.S. west of the Rockies. Florida and upper New England have higher NDVI values, as rainfall has been more favorable in these areas this year.
Figure 6. The U.S. comparison to the 27-year average for the period July 26 – August 1, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows areas of below-average photosynthetic activity in the western High Plains and the Midwest. Drought conditions continue to expand in parts of New England with severe drought conditions reported in western New York, while below-average NDVI values from southeast Missouri through West Virginia are due to heavier-than-normal rainfall this week and the resultant cloud cover.

Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library

Ray Asebedo, Precision Agriculture

Nan An, Imaging Scientist