Comparative Vegetation Condition Report: May 2 - 8

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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, and 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 May 2 – May 8, 2017 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows a continued increase in vegetative activity eastern Kansas, extending into extreme northeast Kansas. The recent cold weather has slowed vegetative activity in the west, but a pocket of increased activity is visible in the Arkansas River Valley west of Garden City. This is an area of intense alfalfa production.

Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for May 2 – May 8, 2017 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory lower NDVI values are evident in scattered areas of western and central Kansas. The winter wheat is less advanced this year than last, particularly in western Kansas, where dry fall conditions hampered establishment and recent cold weather has slowed development. Southeast Kansas is showing lower vegetative activity due to excessive moisture creating problems in the area.

Figure 3. Compared to the 27-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for May 2 – May 8, 2017 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory much of the state has below-average vegetative activity. The wetter-than-normal conditions have slowed spring planting in the northern parts of the state, and excessive moisture has dampened vegetative activity in the Southeastern Division.

Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S for May 2 – May 8, 2017 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows the highest NDVI values are confined to the Southern Plains, particularly in east Texas and Louisiana. A second area of higher vegetative activity is also visible along the West Coast, where the wet conditions continue. Low NDVI values are visible along the central Mississippi River Valley, where flooding continues to be an issue. 

Figure 5. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for May 2 – May 8, 2017, 2017 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory again shows the impact that the split in the snow cover has caused this year. Much lower NDVI values are visible in the Cascades and in western Wyoming, where snow packs are still high. The Northern Rockies are showing higher NDVI values as the snow pack is rapidly retreating. 

Figure 6. The U.S. comparison to the 27-year average for the period of May 2 – May 8, 2017 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows the area of below-average photosynthetic activity in upper New England, where continuing storm systems have masked vegetative activity. The area including southern Ohio, West Virginia, and into Virginia and eastern Kentucky have above-average photosynthetic activity as favorable moisture and mild temperatures have increased plant production.


Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library

Ray Asebedo, Precision Agriculture

Nan An, Imaging Scientist