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 14 – 27 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that while the greatest biomass production continues to be in the eastern third of the state, increased activity is visible in the northwestern division. Recent rains have eased some of the stress on vegetation in the area.
Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for July 14 - 27 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 in the eastern areas of West Central into Central KS. These regions continue to see lower-than-normal precipitation, as well as higher-than-average temperatures. In the northeast, much of the vegetation has been delayed by the wetter-than-normal conditions early in the growing season.
Figure 3. Compared to the 26-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for July 14 - 27 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 centered south of the Arkansas River in Edwards, Stafford, and Pratt counties. Vegetation in that area is more susceptible to short-term rainfall deficits, due to the sandy soils in the region.
Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the Corn Belt for July 14 – 23 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the greatest photosynthetic activity continues to be centered from central Nebraska through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Favorable precipitation and temperatures have spurred biomass production in these areas. In Iowa, 83 percent of the corn and 76 percent of soybeans are reported in good to excellent condition.
Figure 5. The comparison to last year in the Corn Belt for the period July 14 -27 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows the biggest decrease in biomass production is concentrated in Missouri. Excess moisture continues to play a major role. The latest reports from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service show 47 percent of the state has surplus topsoil moisture. 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 14-27 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows the greatest decrease in biomass production is in southeastern Missouri. Excess soil moisture and delayed plantings have hampered biomass production in this area. In contrast, the favorable moisture in the central portions of the region has resulted in above-average photosynthetic activity.
Figure 7. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S. for July 14-20 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the greatest photosynthetic activity is concentrated from the Northern Plains to New England. Lower biomass production is visible in the Pacific Northwest into Montana. It is particularly notable in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
Figure 8. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for the period July 14-27 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the Pacific Northwest continues to have much lower biomass production. The expanding drought is greatly reducing photosynthetic activity in the region. Increased photosynthetic activity is most notable in the Upper Midwest, where a more favorable precipitation pattern has prevailed this year. The lower photosynthetic activity in the Missouri is mainly due to excess moisture.
Figure 9. The U.S. comparison to the 26-year average for the period July 14-27 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 photosynthetic activity, as drought continues to intensify in this region. Pockets of lower photosynthetic activity are also visible in western Florida, where drought is also intensifying. In contrast, the lower photosynthetic activity centered in Missouri 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)