Monday, October 5, 2009

Prospects bright for flashy fall foliage



Northeast Missouri is the only exception to this year’s bright fall foliage forecast. Cool, wet weather there has contributed to leaf diseases that could result in fall colors more bronze than gold.

By Jim Low
Missouri Department of Conservation

It’s October, when leaves blaze yellow, orange and red. Foresters with the Missouri Department of Conservation say this should be a good year for autumn color.

Warm, sunny days and cool nights favor the development of brilliant foliage. Trees stop producing green pigment when nighttime lows fall into the 50s and 60s, and sugars stored in leaves undergo chemical changes that turn them every outrageous shade in the rainbow.

Fall color almost always peaks around Oct. 15 in Missouri, and this year appears to be typical. Trees in the northern and southern parts of the state may change colors a week earlier or later.

Certain local weather conditions can cause fall colors to be less vivid. For instance, heavy rains at this time of year can flush pigments out of leaves, reducing color. Foresters in northeast Missouri say wet, cool conditions there and increased prevalence of leaf diseases could make colors more bronze than gold in some areas.

Drought or strong wind sometimes causes premature leaf drop. But barring such conditions, Missouri’s fall color outlook is bright.

For fall color updates, visit mdc.mo.gov/nathis/seasons/fall/.

For more suggested fall color viewing routes and information about why trees turn colors in the fall, visit mdc.mo.gov/nathis/seasons/fall/, or write to: MDC, Follow the Show of Missouri’s Fall Colors, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180. You also can e-mail pubstaff@mdc.mo.gov and request “Follow the Show of Missouri’s Fall Colors.”

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