Near-Surface and High-Resolution Satellite Time Series for Detecting Crop Phenology

Chunyuan Diao, Geyang Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Detecting crop phenology with satellite time series is important to characterize agroecosys-tem energy-water-carbon fluxes, manage farming practices, and predict crop yields. Despite the advances in satellite-based crop phenological retrievals, interpreting those retrieval characteristics in the context of on-the-ground crop phenological events remains a long-standing hurdle. Over the recent years, the emergence of near-surface phenology cameras (e.g., PhenoCams), along with the satellite imagery of both high spatial and temporal resolutions (e.g., PlanetScope imagery), has largely facilitated direct comparisons of retrieved characteristics to visually observed crop stages for pheno-logical interpretation and validation. The goal of this study is to systematically assess near-surface PhenoCams and high-resolution PlanetScope time series in reconciling sensor-and ground-based crop phenological characterizations. With two critical crop stages (i.e., crop emergence and maturity stages) as an example, we retrieved diverse phenological characteristics from both PhenoCam and PlanetScope imagery for a range of agricultural sites across the United States. The results showed that the curvature-based Greenup and Gu-based Upturn estimates showed good congruence with the visually observed crop emergence stage (RMSE about 1 week, bias about 0–9 days, and R square about 0.65–0.75). The threshold-and derivative-based End of greenness falling Season (i.e., EOS) estimates reconciled well with visual crop maturity observations (RMSE about 5–10 days, bias about 0–8 days, and R square about 0.6–0.75). The concordance among PlanetScope, PhenoCam, and visual phenology demonstrated the potential to interpret the fine-scale sensor-derived phenological characteristics in the context of physiologically well-characterized crop phenological events, which paved the way to develop formal protocols for bridging ground-satellite phenological characterization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1957
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • crop phenology
  • PhenoCam
  • PlanetScope
  • high resolution
  • near-surface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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