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 October 4 – October 10, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows only light photosynthetic activity concentrated in the easternmost counties. Some lower NDVI levels are visible in the river valleys. High streamflow levels have impacted vegetation in those areas. Vegetation continues to move into dormancy in the western areas of the state.
Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for October 4 – October 10, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows the largest area of increased vegetative production is in north central Kansas. The delay in sorghum development is the major contributor to this higher vegetative activity. At this time last year, sorghum maturity in north central Kansas was at 78 percent. This year the sorghum maturity is rated at 56 percent.
Figure 3. Compared to the 27-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for October 4 – October 10, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows below-average vegetative activity concentrated in the western half of the state, with above-average NDVI values in the north central part of the state. Late planting has delayed sorghum maturity in the area.
Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S for October 4 – October 10, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows the highest NDVI values are in the central Appalachians where mild temperatures have extended the growing season. Low NDVI values are visible in the Corn Belt and along the Mississippi River Valley, where crop maturity is slightly ahead of average, but harvest has been delayed by wet soils.
Figure 5. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for October 4 – October 10, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows lower NDVI values in the upper Midwest, particularly in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Persistent rain and cloud cover continues to mask vegetative activity in these areas. In contrast, the Plains and the Southeast have higher NDVI readings. In the Plains, late-maturing crops are the biggest driver of the higher NDVI values.
Figure 6. The U.S. comparison to the 27-year average for the period October 4 – October 10, 2016 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows below-average photosynthetic activity in the Mississippi River Valley and the Pacific Northwest. Heavy rains and saturated soils have limited photosynthetic activity in these regions, particularly as the growing season comes to a close.
Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library
Ray Asebedo, Precision Agriculture
Nan An, Imaging Scientist