Fall shaping up to be particularly colorful

autumnleaves1By MELINDA WILLIAMS



Fall is shaping up to be particularly colorful in the mid-Atlantic region this year.

Scott McElfresh, agriculture extension agent with Virginia Cooperative Extension, said the wet weather and cooler temperatures that have been prevalent throughout much of the summer help intensify fall leaf colors. However, he added, “we will need some sunny warm days while keeping cool, non-freezing night temperatures” to ensure the best color display.

“Warm days and cool nights create more vibrant colors,” he said. “Droughts can delay the onset of the color change, but I don’t think we have to worry about that this year.”

AccuWeather is predicting the most vibrant display of color to occur across the mid-Atlantic region this year. While Virginia Department of Forestry has not yet started to predict when peak colors will occur, AccuWeather is predicting mid-October for the New River Valley.

The forestry service expects to begin forecasting peak colors during the first part of September. These predictions can be monitored at www.virginia.org/fall/?t=eNews&eM=O3&eNL=fallinva.

McElfresh said a period of too warm temperatures could cause color intensity to decline and an early frost could make leaves turn brown and fall off before changing color.

“As the days get shorter, this will prompt the trees to begin closing off veins and trapping sugars in the leaves.  This allows the trees to drop their leaves for the winter, we benefit by the wonderful scenery the leaves provide,” he said.

John Seiler, a forestry professor at Virginia Tech, told McElfresh sunshine helps the red pigments to develop in leaves. He said he is expecting a “great fall color year” as long as there are a few sunny weekends so people can get out to enjoy the color.

AccuWeather is predicting near-normal temperatures and precipitation for the mid-Atlantic this fall.



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