Farm Crop's Rush to Maturity Revealed on Satellite Imagery
Satellite measurement of photosynthetic activity reveals crop drought stress and advanced maturity.
Published: Jun 25, 2012
Farm Futures has partnered with the Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory (EASAL) at Kansas State University to bring these maps to you. Each map is composed from satellite data taken over a two-week period. The EASAL maps show current vegetative health for the past two weeks and compare vegetative health with the previous two-week period, with the previous year and with the long-term average. Green reflects healthy vegetative development, while brown reflects a lack of healthy vegetative biomass production.
Satellite imagery shows active vegetative growth on the West Coast and in many areas of the eastern half of the Lower 48 states. The U.S. corn crop has progressed far enough now to begin filling in prime growing areas of the Midwest, covering soils that previously showed up on the imagery in these areas, with the exception of eastern Indiana and western Ohio.
Satellite imagery suggests that crops are healthier in the Corn Belt than normal for this time of year. That may be true in portions of Minnesota, northwest Iowa and eastern Nebraska, but some of the increased photosynthetic activity showing up in the imagery for the Midwest is due to the advanced maturity level of the crops relative to normal, rather than actual crop health. That’s especially true in eastern Iowa and much of Illinois and Indiana. Meanwhile, heat and drought are taking their toll in the Plains, reducing photosynthetic activity relative to average.
Adverse weather is reducing photosynthetic activity in the central Plains and across much of the South relative to early June. Photosynthetic activity is more active in much of the Corn Belt than it was in early June but that is largely due to the advanced maturity of the crop, rather than the actual health of the crop.
This year’s corn and soybean crops are much further advanced in crop growth than they were a year ago at this time, resulting in greater photosynthetic activity showing up on satellite imagery. However, crop stress is beginning to show up in drier areas of the central and southern Plains now. Satellite imagery also shows declining crop health in the western Northern Plains, where the region has received much less rainfall than the previous year. The western Southern Plains is wetter than a year ago, resulting in greater photosynthetic activity, but rainfall is still generally below normal levels.
This graphic shows the long-term average vegetative health for this time of year.
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Tagged: Corn Belt, Drought, soybean crops