Towards routine mapping of crop emergence within the season using the harmonized landsat and sentinel-2 dataset

Feng Gao, Martha C. Anderson, David M. Johnson, Robert Seffrin, Brian Wardlow, Andy Suyker, Chunyuan Diao, Dawn M. Browning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Crop emergence is a critical stage for crop development modeling, crop condition monitoring, and biomass accumulation estimation. Green-up dates (or the start of the season) detected from remote sensing time series are related to, but generally lag, crop emergence dates. In this paper, we refine the within-season emergence (WISE) algorithm and extend application to five Corn Belt states (Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Nebraska) using routine harmonized Landsat and Sentinel-2 (HLS) data from 2018 to 2020. Green-up dates detected from the HLS time series were assessed using field observations and near-surface measurements from PhenoCams. Statistical descriptions of green-up dates for corn and soybeans were generated and compared to county-level planting dates and district- to state-level crop emergence dates reported by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Results show that emergence dates for corn and soybean can be reliably detected within the season using the HLS time series acquired during the early growing season. Compared to observed crop emergence dates, green-up dates from HLS using WISE were ~3 days later at the field scale (30-m). The mean absolute difference (MAD) was ~7 days and the root mean square error (RMSE) was ~9 days. At the state level, the mean differences between median HLS green-up date and median crop emergence date were within 2 days for 2018-2020. At this scale, MAD was within 4 days, and RMSE was less than 5 days for both corn and soybeans. The R-squares were 0.73 and 0.87 for corn and soybean, respectively. The 2019 late emergence of crops in Corn Belt states (1-4 weeks to five-year average) was captured by HLS green-up date retrievals. This study demonstrates that routine within-season mapping of crop emergence/green-up at the field scale is practicable over large regions using operational satellite data. The green-up map derived from HLS during the growing season provides valuable information on spatial and temporal variability in crop emergence that can be used for crop monitoring and refining agricultural statistics used in broad-scale modeling efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5074
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Crop condition
  • Crop growth stages
  • Crop progress
  • Green-up
  • Land surface phenology
  • Landsat
  • Remote sensing phenology
  • Sentinel-2
  • Start of the season
  • Time-series analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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