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 August 9 – August 15, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory continues to show high NDVI values across the eastern third of the state. Low NDVI values are most visible in parts of northwest and west central Kansas, while moderate NDVI values are visible in the southwest. The Southwest Division averaged almost double the normal rainfall while the South Central Division was more than three times the normal. The highest NDVI values are along the Missouri River in Brown and Doniphan counties.
Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for August 9 – August 15, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows vegetative production much higher across most of the state. The greatest increase in photosynthetic activity continues to be in western and central Kansas. Rainfall has been well distributed in the region and crop progress continues ahead of last year at this time.
Figure 3. Compared to the 27-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for August 9 – August 15, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows below-average vegetative activity is most evident in Rawlins and Decatur counties in northwest Kansas. Moderate temperatures and seasonal rainfall have favored plant growth across most of the state.
Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S for August 9 – August 15, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows high NDVI values in the western Corn Belt, particularly Iowa and eastern Nebraska. Favorable rainfall and more seasonal temperatures continue to favor 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. The low NDVI values from northwest Arkansas through the Ohio River Valley are due to excessive rains in the region, as are the low vegetative growth values in southern Louisiana. Abbeville, in the Lake Charles region of southwest Louisiana, reported more than 19 inches of precipitation in the period.
Figure 5. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for August 9 – August 15, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows that lower NDVI values are visible across much of the southern U.S. west of the Rockies. Persistent rain and cloud cover continues to mask vegetative activity in the region. In contrast the low NDVI values in eastern Wyoming, western Nebraska, and much of South Dakota are due to the increasing drought in these areas.
Figure 6. The U.S. comparison to the 27-year average for the period August 9 – August 15, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows areas of below-average photosynthetic activity in the Desert Southwest. Onset of the monsoon season has resulted in heavy rains and persistent cloud cover in the area. Similar patterns can be seen along the Gulf Coast and the mid-Atlantic. In Mississippi, producers are reporting lush grass and mushy ground from the wet conditions, while flooding is an issue in Louisiana. Concerns are increasing that continued wet weather will result in harvest delays in the Corn Belt.

Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library

Ray Asebedo, Precision Agriculture

Nan An, Imaging Scientist