Fall Foliage This Year ... Will The Drought Affect The Brilliance Of The Fall Colors?
Every year, I start to get more and more questions this time of the year about fall foliage. Most are just curious if we will see a good display of fall colors this year? We have had drought in the area almost all summer and this is definitely going to have a real impact on the fall colors. Let me try to answer some of your questions...
Will The Cool Weather We Saw Last Week Cause the Leaves To Fall Early?
Every year, the cold shots tend to spur on this question. The answer to this question is no. Although there are many factors that can influence when the leaves fall, the greatest influence to when the leaves change color and fall is the length of night. As the nights get longer in fall, the leaves stop producing the chlorophyll. This allows the true colors of the leaves to start to show through. The longer nights begins the process of the leaves changing colors and ultimately falling off the trees.
How Does Drought Affect Fall Colors?
Many of you know that we have been in a drought all summer and it has persisted into fall. Here is the latest assessment from the US Drought Monitor for our area and you can see the drought is still present in southern IN and western KY.
Although drought is not the greatest influence for the color change in our leaves it can have a distinct impact on the brilliance of the fall foliage. Both temperature and moisture can affect the brilliance of the fall foliage in particular during late summer and early fall. Ideally we would like warm afternoons and crisp nights for the most brilliant fall displays. In addition, severe drought conditions can lead to less brilliant displays and can delay the color change by a few weeks.
What Does This Mean For Us?
Driving around town, I have noticed more and more trees starting to show a little color. We know drought has been a big player this late summer / early fall and this is a time that we believe is important to fall foliage displays. The hot summer and drought conditions could lead to a slightly later color change for our leaves. In addition the drought will likely create fall foliage colors that are not as brilliant as some of our rainy late summers. I hope this helps explain what to expect this year.
In case you forgot, here is a look at the normal peak time for fall foliage in our area. Notice most of our area peaks in late October.
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