Satellite captures curious brown squares after snowfall in North Dakota

Staff writer

NASA's Landsat 7 satellite captured a rather odd aerial view from 438 miles above North Dakota in early December.

The region had just been hit by a rather intense snowstorm, but the image still showed numerous patches of brown amid the snow-covered landscape.

Nasa pic of fields
Nasa pic of fields

It turns out the brown spots are fields of corn.

NASA's Earth Observatory reports that director of North Dakota's agricultural Weather Network explain the corn is planted rather tightly, so it's leaves are hiding the snow on the ground.

The state's farmers have normally harvested most their corn by the middle of November, but this year, 57 percent of North Dakota's corn was still in the fields in early-December, according to a Department of Agriculture report. That's 1.88 million acres of corn according to the agriculture news site AgWeb.

He also noted that while corn is typically harvested by now, it was a wet autumn in the U.S., therefore excess moisture means the corn would have to be dried out in storage facilities. This can add expense so farmers often choose to leave it on the stalk and harvest in the spring after it's dried out on his own.

Corn can cope in winter conditions because the crop stands several feet above the surface of the soil, so it can withstand heavy snow while the thick stalks are unlikely to splinter even in a stiff wind.