A hybrid approach for detecting corn and soybean phenology with time-series MODIS data

Linglin Zeng, Brian D. Wardlow, Rui Wang, Jie Shan, Tsegaye Tadesse, Michael J. Hayes, Deren Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Monitoring crop phenology provides essential information for crop management, as well as for understanding regional to global scale vegetation dynamics. In this study, a hybrid phenology detection method is presented that incorporates the "shape-model fitting" concept of the two-step filtering method and a simulation concept of the crop models to detect the critical vegetative stages and reproductive stages of corn (Zea mays L.) and soybeans (Glycine max L.) from MODIS 250-m Wide Dynamic Range Vegetation Index (WDRVI) time-series data and 1000-m Land Surface Temperature (LST) data. The method was first developed and tested at the field scale over a ten-year period (2003-2012) for three experimental study sites in eastern Nebraska of USA, where the estimated phenology dates were compared to the ground-based phenology observations for both corn and soybeans. The average root mean square error (RMSE) of phenology stage estimation of the individual development stages across all sites ranged from 1.9 to 4.3 days for corn and from 1.9 to 4.9 days for soybeans. The approach was then tested at a regional scale over eastern Nebraska and the state of Iowa to evaluate its ability to characterize the spatio-temporal variation of targeted corn and soybean phenology stage dates over a larger area. Quantitative regional assessments were conducted by comparing the estimated crop stage dates with crop developmental stage statistics reported by the USDA NASS Crop Progress Reports (NASS-CPR) for both eastern Nebraska and Iowa. The accuracy of the regional-scale phenology estimation in Iowa (RMSE ranged from 2.6 to 3.9 days for corn and from 3.2 to 3.9 days for soybeans) was slightly lower than in eastern Nebraska (RMSE ranged from 1.8 to 2.9 days for corn and from 1.7 to 2.9 days for soybeans), However, the estimation accuracy in Iowa was still reasonable with the estimated phenology dates being within 4 days or less of the observed dates for both corn and soybeans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-250
Number of pages14
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Air temperature
  • Crop phenology
  • Land surface temperature
  • Photoperiod
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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