What is the Vegetation Health Index?


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As drought conditions continue to worsen, it places more stress on our crops.

We often talk about the drought monitor to show just how dry it has been. There’s another product that we can use to see just how much stress is being put on plants and crops in KELOLAND. It’s called the Vegetation Health Index, or VHI.

The VHI combines estimations of moisture and thermal conditions in order to show how much stress is being observed on our crops. The threshold for concern is if the VHI drops below 40, indicated by colors of orange, red, or pink. This indicates an expected loss of crops or pasture production. A VHI over 60, shown in dark green and blue, implies a more bountiful yield.

Here is the current VHI map. Note the widespread oranges, reds, and pinks across much of KELOLAND and the western United States. You can also see where the moisture has been sequestered, with blues toward Texas and Oklahoma.

Now, let’s compare this to the same time last year. We still had a surplus working in our favor in KELOLAND, so much of the region had little to no crop stress. As a result, yields were forecast to be far better. Even the west wasn’t as parched as it is now.

Prolonged heat and dry weather, will only add more stress to our crops and pastures. Until we can flip the script and get a lot of rain in the area, our VHI will continue to drop.

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