Estimation of SOS and EOS for Midwestern US Corn and Soybean Crops
Understanding crop phenology is fundamental to agricultural production, management, planning, and decision-making. This study used 250 m 16-day Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) time-series data to detect crop phenology across the Midwestern United States, 2007–2015. Key crop phenology metrics, start of season (SOS) and end of season (EOS), were estimated for corn and soybean. For such a large study region, we found that MODIS-estimated SOS and EOS values were highly dependent on the nature of input time-series data, analytical methods, and threshold values chosen for crop phenology detection. With the entire sequence of MODIS EVI time-series data as input, SOS values were inconsistent compared to crop emergent dates from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Crop Progress Reports (CPR). However, when we removed winter EVI images from the time-series data to reduce impacts of snow cover, we obtained much more consistent SOS estimation. Various threshold values (10 to 50% of seasonal EVI amplitude) were applied to derive SOS values. For both corn’s and soybean’s SOS estimation, a threshold value of 25% generated the best overall agreement with the CPR crop emergent dates. Root-mean-square error (RMSE) values were 4.81 and 5.30 days for corn and soybean, respectively. For corn’s EOS estimation, a threshold value of 40% led to a high R2 value of 0.82 and RMSE value of 5.16 days. We further examined spatial patterns of SOS and EOS for both crops—SOS for corn displayed a clear south-north gradient; the southern portion of the Midwest US has earlier SOS and EOS dates.