In late November 2014, cold and dry conditions brought the end of fall harvest activities in Nebraska. More than 45 million acres of farms across the state produce corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, beans, potatoes, sorghum, and small grains.
In the south-central part of the state, the Platte River forms an important agricultural corridor, as shown here in images acquired by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. Turn on the image comparison tool to see how the fields changed during the fall harvest.
The top image was acquired on September 8, 2014, prior to most harvesting. Green circles and squares are fields with actively growing crops. According to Mike Moritz of the National Weather Service in Hastings, Nebraska, brown areas are the result of a hail storm, "which basically mowed everything down in its path." Hail ranged in size from golf balls to baseballs and was accompanied by winds of about 100 to 110 kilometers per hour (about 60 to 70 miles per hour).
The bottom image was acquired on October 26, 2014. By this time, the USDA reported that the soybean harvest was near completion and farmers had turned their attention to corn. Brown areas indicate bare ground.
Some crops, however, do not follow a fall harvest timeline, as evidenced by the patch of bright green fields on the right side of the image. According to Jessica McCarty of the Michigan Tech Research Institute, some of the green fields are winter wheat. Moritz adds that many of them are cover crops, such as beets and potatoes—just to have something planted for the fall and winter. "We had a nice fall and many plants kept their greenness well into early November," Moritz said.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Jesse Allen, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Caption by Kathryn Hansen.