An improved approach considering intraclass variability for mapping winter wheat using multitemporal MODIS EVI images

Yanjun Yang, Bo Tao, Wei Ren, Demetrio P. Zourarakis, Bassil El Masri, Zhigang Sun, Qingjiu Tian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Winter wheat is one of the major cereal crops in the world. Monitoring and mapping its spatial distribution has significant implications for agriculture management, water resources utilization, and food security. Generally, winter wheat has distinguished phenological stages during the growing season, which form a unique EVI (Enhanced Vegetation Index) time series curve and didder considerably from other crop types and natural vegetation. Since early 2000, the MODIS EVI product has become the primary dataset for satellite-based crop monitoring at large scales due to its high temporal resolution, huge observation scope, and timely availability. However, the intraclass variability of winter wheat caused by field conditions and agricultural practices might lower the mapping accuracy, which has received little attention in previous studies. Here, we present a winter wheat mapping approach that integrates the variables derived from the MODIS EVI time series taking into account intraclass variability. We applied this approach to two winter wheat concentration areas, the state of Kansas in the U.S. and the North China Plain region (NCP). The results were evaluated against crop-specific maps or statistical data at the state/regional level, county level, and site level. Compared with statistical data, the accuracies in Kansas and the NCP were 95.1% and 92.9% at the state/regional level with R2 (Coeffcient of Determination) values of 0.96 and 0.71 at the county level, respectively. Overall accuracies in confusion matrix were evaluated by validation samples in both Kansas (90.3%) and the NCP (85.0%) at the site level. Comparisons with methods without considering intraclass variability demonstrated that winter wheat mapping accuracies were improved by 17% in Kansas and 15% in the NCP using the improved approach. Further analysis indicated that our approach performed better in areas with lower landscape fragmentation, which may partly explain the relatively higher accuracy of winter wheat mapping in Kansas. This study provides a new perspective for generating multiple subclasses as training inputs to decrease the intraclass differences for crop type detection based on the MODIS EVI time series. This approach provides a flexible framework with few variables and fewer training samples that could facilitate its application to multiple-crop-type mapping at large scales.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1191
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture (NIFA-USDA Hatch project), grant number 2352437000.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors.


  • EVI time series
  • Intraclass variability
  • Landscape metrics
  • Multidimensional vector
  • Winter wheat mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (all)


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