The 2013 Growing Season Has Begun!

Published on March 20, 2013 by Jude Kastens

Tags: Agriculture, Corn, Crop yield, Drought, Greenness, GreenReport, Growing Season, NDVI, Research, Satellite imagery, Soybeans, Weather, Wheat

Winter wheat in corn stalks. Picture by Dietrich Kastens.

Winter wheat in corn stalks. Picture by Dietrich Kastens.

March 2013 – In collaboration with commercial partners TerraMetrics Agriculture, Inc. (TMAI) of Lawrence, KS and Planalytics of Berwyn, PA, the Kansas Applied Remote Sensing Program recently released the GreenReport® and Crop Yield Forecast schedule for 2013. The GreenReport® will be launched on March 21, and crop yield forecasting will begin one week later.

The 2012 growing season provided a roller coaster for agriculture. An early spring led to record early plantings for corn and soybeans. Crop potential was high. However, by mid-year, drought conditions were tightening their grip across the central Great Plains and Midwest, taking a terrible toll on all crops. A record hot & dry summer did the rest of the damage. Corn yields fell to trend-adjusted levels not seen since the great drought of 1988. Soybeans were headed the same way, but were able to gain back some ground late in the growing season when weather patterns improved (the fate of the corn crop had already been sealed by then). In contrast, the early growing season helped the winter wheat crop reach maturity before the drought had fully set in, resulting in an average crop.

So what’s in store for 2013? Despite recent moisture events, significant soil moisture deficits remain across much of the central U.S. and upper Midwest. Spring rains will be needed to ensure that crops get off to a good start. After that, summer moisture will be essential to avoiding a repeat of last year.

Of course, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding how the weather will unfold during the 2013 growing season and how it will impact vegetation across the U.S. Stay on top of things by following the GreenReport® and the satellite-based Crop Yield Forecasts throughout the year.


Using satellite imagery to measure plant vigor across the conterminous U.S., the GreenReport® is published weekly by KARS during the March-October growing period. Current conditions are related to the previous week, the previous year, and the 1989-2012 historical average. To enhance the value of the GreenReport® maps, Planalytics agribusiness meteorologists provide critical insight by describing the impact of historical, current, and forecasted weather on current vegetation conditions and expected changes in condition, with an emphasis on agriculture.

The GreenReport® can be viewed in 2 different formats. A set of fixed maps that illustrate vegetation condition and change at reduced resolutions can be seen can be found here. An interactive GIS format, with selectable layers and maps at full resolution, can be found here.

Crop yield forecasting research at KARS-TMAI has been ongoing since 1995, and 2013 represents KARS-TMAI’s 12th year of real-time, nationwide forecasting. For more information regarding Planalytics agribusiness solutions, see the Planalytics website. For general information regarding KARS-TMAI crop yield forecasting, see past news item 'Satellites Are Watching Your Corn', or contact Jude Kastens.