Crop Progress from Space: Tracking 2019's Historically Delayed Planting

By comparing NDVI (a measure of vegetative growth) at the end of June this year, versus the same time last year, we can see just how severely behind this year’s crop really is. Southern Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Western Ohio show the most severe gaps compared to last year.

The map below shows the change in vegetative growth across the corn belt, based on satellite data from NASA’s MODIS program. Darker red means more severe gaps in vegetative health compared to last year.

At this early point in the season, imagery comparisons versus last year tell us mainly about planting delays, and don’t correlate exactly with changes in yield. However, later plantings increase the risk of suboptimal weather during key growth stages, as well as fall frost risk.

Crop Condition Ratings

How much have planting delays affected the quality of the crop that was planted? To help understand this, we also looked at the USDA’s end of June crop condition ratings. The maps below show the percentage of the corn and soybean crops rated as good or excellent, along with a comparison to the 5-year average. 

For example, in Illinois, just 42% of the corn crop is rated as good or excellent, 30% behind the 5-year average for this date of 72%. As we saw in the satellite data, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio are some of the most severely affected by this year’s extreme weather.

Stay tuned to FBN throughout the season as our data science and agronomy teams track the latest imagery, weather and anonymously contributed farmer data to update 2019 yield expectations.
Read this next: What Does the Unprecedented 2019 Rainy Spring Mean for Your Planting Plans and Yield? 

Analysis for this story included contributions from Jay Ahalawat, data scientist, and Hunter Stone, senior staff agronomist, both with FBN.