Woolly bear caterpillars, The Harvest Moon, The Hunter’s Moon (the one after the Harvest Moon) and driving around looking at the trees in all their fall glory. All in a Fall days work…. normally. This year hasn’t been the best for fall colors. There are some very nice trees here and there and even a stand or two, but overall, the colors are a bit disappointing this year.
I think the main problem is the colors aren’t peaking at the same time. The yellows were earlier and the reds are right now.. at least, until the rain and the wind strip the trees.
Each year is different on when the colors peak and even, sometimes, what the colors will be. The color in leaves comes from cells called pigments. Most of the trees in summer are green from the chlorophyll that hide the other pigments like the orange, yellow and brown we see in fall. As the days become shorter, the production of chlorophyll slows and eventually stops. This allows the hidden colors to start showing their beauty. Some plants, like sumacs, hard maples, white oak, red oak and white ash don’t produce the reds and purples until the fall.
The timing, intensity and the quality of fall color, as we all know, isn’t the same each year, even on the same trees in your yard or neighborhood. In a normal year, the color change occurs from the middle of September through the middle of October. Temperature, moisture, rain, wind and the amount of sunlight all affect the quality of the fall color. Clear days, cool night and dry conditions give the best color. Heavy winds, rainfall and freezing temperatures, which can kill leaf tissue, can all cause the leaves to fall early.
And all trees do not change color at the same time. Walnuts turn yellow in the fall and are one of the first trees to drop all of it’s leaves. That can occur before many other trees. The white oak has subdued red color of the leaves that turn brown and may stay on the tree until the new leaves start to grow in the spring. Ash trees fall after the walnut but before oaks and maples.
Of course, there are more than trees to show color for the fall. We managed to plant a few of them in our yard.
If you didn’t get around to seeing all the colors that Mother Nature had to offer this year, or you missed them, Mark has been putting pictures on Schnack’s blog or click here for just the fall photos that viewers have sent in.
Posted under Autumn
This post was written by Eileen Loan on October 25, 2010