The New York State Police sergeant pressed his face to the vibrating glass, watching a trooper the size of a plastic army man approach the cornfield below. "Walk around the perimeter," the scout said into his headset, his voice muffled by the helicopter's whirring blades. "There. Walk in about 20 rows." Five-hundred feet below the hovering aircraft, the trooper beat back cornstalks to reveal dozens of marijuana plants. "Yeah, that's weed," he said over the radio. State Police investigators tore out 48 marijuana plants during an eradication effort Monday. It's fall and around the region farmers are reaping seasonal crops. But State Police are also at work in the fields — and the sky — as they search rural pockets for marijuana growing among corn and other crops. The Monday haul spotted by helicopter was growing in four plots hidden within two adjacent cornfields in the Greenwich area in southwest Washington County. From above, the clumps of 6-foot-tall illicit plants glowed fluorescent green against the neatly sowed, browning corn. On the ground, investigators found tags identifying the plants.
"It tells me they know what they're doing," the aerial scout said about the labels. The pilot shook his head and added, "It means they're dealing." Monday's mission was one of the season's last. Marijuana grows from July to late September and the State Police are wrapping up their airborne eradication efforts for the past year. The troop that patrols the Capital Region was "especially productive this year" with more than 10,000 plants seized, State Police said. "We've really saturated the area," an aviation sergeant said. "We've had a very successful season."