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 December 27, 2016 – January 2, 2017 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows almost no photosynthetic activity. The little production is mainly in south central Kansas. This is not unexpected given the very cold pattern for the last week.
Figure 2. Compared to the previous year at this time for Kansas, the current Vegetation Condition Report for December 27, 2016 – January 2, 2017 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows only a slight increase in NDVI values across parts of the state. Lower values are most evident in the southern divisions. Expanding drought conditions and the slow establishment of winter wheat in the Southwest into the South Central Divisions have resulted in reduced NDVI values there. Dry conditions are also showing in extreme southeast Kansas.
Figure 3. Compared to the 27-year average at this time for Kansas, this year’s Vegetation Condition Report for December 27, 2016 – January 2, 2017 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows much of the state has slightly above-average vegetative activity. Despite the recent cold weather, temperatures have been slightly warmer than average for the period.
Figure 4. The Vegetation Condition Report for the U.S for December 27, 2016 – January 2, 2017 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows the highest NDVI readings are confined to the South, as the growing season has ended for much of the county. Snowfall has been concentrated in the Intermountain West and the Northern Plains.
Figure 5. The U.S. comparison to last year at this time for December 27, 2016 – January 2, 2017 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows that higher NDVI values are greatest in the Southwest and across parts of the central Corn Belt from eastern Nebraska to western Pennsylvania. Rainfall has been much more plentiful this year, and snowfall has been limited. Along the Gulf Coast, clouds have been more prevalent than last year.
Figure 6. The U.S. comparison to the 27-year average for the period December 27, 2016 – January 2, 2017 from K-State’s Precision Agriculture Laboratory shows an area of below-average photosynthetic activity along the Gulf Coast, where persistent cloud cover has masked vegetative activity. NDVI values have dropped along the northern areas of the U.S. as snow cover has begun to develop.
Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library
Ray Asebedo, Precision Agriculture
Nan An, Imaging Scientist