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 a number of problem areas with this year's crops as they move toward maturity. The western Plains and the Southeast have the most notable problems, but also central Illinois.
This satellite image clearly shows that crop health is well below normal in the Southern Plains, the Southeast and in southern and eastern areas of the Midwest. Crop health is better than normal, according to the imagery, in parts of northeast Ohio, east-central Indiana, northern Illinois and much of the northwestern Midwest.
Crop health deteriorated significantly from early to mid-September throughout much of the Mississippi River Valley, according to the latest satellite imagery. Much of this loss of greenness is due to seasonal crop maturity, although some dryness and disease issues are at work as well.
Satellite imagery suggests that crop health is better than the previous year in an area stretching from western Ohio to Iowa and southern Minnesota. However, some of this increased greenness is also likely due to the later maturity of this year's crops, making it appear healthier. That's why you need to give greater credence to the graphic comparing greenness to the 22-year average. Crop health remains virtually non-existent in the Southern Plains, which remains entrenched in a drought of historical proportions.
This graphic shows the long-term average vegetative health for this time of year.