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 November 3 – November 16 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the area of highest biomass production continues to be a small pocket along the Arkansas River in southwest Kansas and into the South Central Division. The area of very low NDVI values in Trego, Ellis, Rush, and Ness counties has shrunken, although moderate drought conditions persist. The most recent snow won’t show until the next mapping interval.
Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for November 3 – November 16 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 continue to have higher photosynthetic activity this year. These areas continue to have beneficial moisture, while the rest of the state has been dry. Rains from last week have reduced the area of moderate drought conditions, but the impact of rains from this week have yet to appear on these maps.
Figure 3. Compared to the 26-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for November 3 – November 16 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 the largest areas of above-average photosynthetic activity as moisture continues to be above average and temperatures remain favorable. Recent moisture in the Northwest Division has also favored higher photosynthetic activity there. Areas of below-average photosynthetic activity continue to shrink, as moisture is more widespread and we move into the dormant season.
Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the Corn Belt for November 3 – November 16 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that 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. Snow continues to appear in the northern parts of the region, although this map doesn’t reflect the most recent storm.
Figure 5. The comparison to last year in the Corn Belt for the period for November 3 – November 16 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows lower photosynthetic activity centered in the Central Plains, although this area of lower activity has become smaller due to recent moisture. There is a large area of higher NDVI values in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, 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 November 3 – November 16 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 and western areas of the region, where temperatures have continued mild and moisture has been favorable. Areas of below-average photosynthesis continue to shrink, as we move out of the growing season.
Figure 7. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S for November 3 – November 16 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that the highest level of photosynthetic activity is in the Deep South, where favorable temperatures have extended the growing season. An early storm system has brought more snow to the Mountain West, although much more is needed to address the long-term deficits. Low NDVI values are noticeable the Ohio River Valley and along the Mississippi River, where crops have matured early, and flooding continues to be an issue.
Figure 8. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for the period November 3 – November 16 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows that lower NDVI values are most evident in the Pacific Northwest, while much higher NDVI values are visible in the Great Lakes region. Snow is the major driver for both. The Great Lakes area has seen a late start to the snow season, while the Pacific Northwest has a higher snow pack than last year. Continuation of this snowy pattern will be essential for significant drought relief.
Figure 9. The U.S. comparison to the 26-year average for the period November 3 – November 16 from K-State’s Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory shows much below-average photosynthetic activity in western Washington and Northern Idaho. Decreases in photosynthetic activity in both of these areas are due largely to a very wet pattern over the last two weeks.
Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library
Kevin Price, Professor Emeritus, Agronomy and Geography
Nan An, former Graduate Research Assistant, Agronomy