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SMAP - Soil Moisture Active Passive - Mapping soil moisture and freeze/thaw state from Space
Tall Crops
Photo 1: Tassels on 2.2 m corn, July 17.
July 18, 2012
Sab Kim
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Updates on the vegetation conditions are provided here, monitored by the crop structure team. There were localized thunderstorms on July 15th, which gave 8 mm rainfall according to the local weather data. I happened to be in the field(!) and believe the campaign fields received much more. Some fields outside the low-altitude flight lines were not visited by the structure team. The conditions of these fields were instead monitored by the vegetation teams.

All the crops grew enough to start to make grains, and the percent ground covered by the vegetation was 80% to 100%, according to observations made between July 7th and 17th. The corn plants grew to 225cm high and will not grow much further even after the rainfall on 15th. Instead tassels and ears are developing (Photo 1) but no cobs yet.

Photo 3: Fully grown winter wheat, July 17.
Photo 2: Bean flower, July 13.

The bean plants were up to 60cm tall. We began to see bean flowers (Photo 2) and 2 to 3 small pods. Winter wheat looked completely yellow (Photo 3). Spring wheat grew to 1 meter, and was still green with leaves mostly drying up. Canola plants (up to 140cm tall) were busy making seed pods thicker and thicker (Photo 4). All the pasture fields were harvested up to July 13th. The bales after the harvest were left on Field 13, which could be a big 'noise' factor for data analysis! (Photo 5).

In most of the crop fields we did not observe the row structure of the ground soil. Some corn fields still showed undulations on the ground of about 7 cm peak-to-peak, which appeared to be the remains of the gradual erosion of the soil. One exception was Field 22: after the harvest, about 1/3 of the field was ploughed and was as rough as it could be.

For me, it has been a very pleasant stay and fruitful fieldwork. I would like to thank everyone (even the weather), and I especially appreciate Stacie and Ruzbeh for spending long hours to assist the crop structure team (we were a few times the last at the ROC)! Last of all, a fun pic: a truck was transporting a manufactured house; it occupied more than the whole road and bumped out a 18-wheeler (Photo 6).

Photo 6: Literally 'house moving'.
Photo 5: Hay bales, July 13.
Photo 4: Canola seed pods, July 5.

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