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  4. »eUpdate 552 February 26th, 2016»Comparative Vegetation Condition Report: February 16 - 22

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Department of Agronomy

Kansas State University

1712 Claflin Rd.

2004 Throckmorton PSC

Manhatan, KS 66506



Extension Agronomy

Comparative Vegetation Condition Report: February 16 - 22

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 February 16 –22 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows that the area of highest biomass production continues to spread north and west from Harper and Sumner counties. The warmer-than-average temperatures, particularly warmer lows, have accelerated biomass development in this area. In the Northwest Division, the very low vegetative activity is less prominent than last week. The impacts of the early February snow in that area continue to fade as temperatures warm.



Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for February 16 –22 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows much of the state with higher photosynthetic activity. There is a pocket of lower activity in the Chase, Butler, and Greenwood counties, which had higher production at this time last year.  


Figure 3. Compared to the 27-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for February 16 –22 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows that the area of above-average photosynthetic activity continues to increase. The largest areas are in central and south central Kansas. Temperatures continue above normal across the state, with the warmest departures in the southwest.



Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S for February 16 –22 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows that the highest photosynthetic activity is in the Deep South, where favorable temperatures continue. Continued lack of vegetative activity in the Pacific Northwest is actually positive as it indicates a substantial snowpack. In central California, some of the winter snow is being lost to higher-than-average temperatures. Lingering impacts of the December flooding are still visible in the reduced vegetative activity in the lower Mississippi River Valley, although is the impacts are less than last week.


Figure 5. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for the period February 16 – 22 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows that lower NDVI values are most evident from the Pacific Northwest to the Central Rockies while much higher NDVI values are visible in the Great Lakes region. Snow continues to be the major influence on both. The Great Lakes area continues to have a low-snow season, while the Pacific Northwest has a higher snow pack than last year. Impacts from the most recent snowstorms won’t be visible until next week.

Figure 6. The U.S. comparison to the 27-year average for the period February 16 – 22 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows below-average photosynthetic activity along the Pacific Northwest and in Virginia. Decreases in both of these areas are due largely to lingering impacts from snow events. The February 14th storm in the Mid-Atlantic region left up to 10 inches of snow in the area. The above-average vegetative activity in eastern Montana and North Dakota is of concern. Snow pack in these areas is below average and abnormally dry conditions continue to expand in the region. Warmer-than-average winter temperatures in the region are also spurring plant development.


Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library

Ray Asebedo, Precision Agriculture

Nan An, Imaging Scientist