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Are You Ready?

Chinese Tallow Tree, Davis (8/16/21) Philip Reedy

“Fall is just around the corner,” writes color spotter Phillip Reedy. He was out for a walk in Davis when he spied this bit of exotic color lying amidst the debris of spent seed pods.

Early color is not unusual, particularly during a drought. The normal triggers of color change are upset by lack of water and other factors.

Typically, it is less light from days shortening and colder temperatures that triggers the process of leaves changing color. Lots of sun and heat are the opposite of that, but when plants lack water they become stressed and when they do, anything goes, including their leaves.

The Duluth News Tribune reported Val Cervenka, forest health program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as saying. “Trees that are under stress usually show it first in their leaves. Since so much of a tree’s energy goes into producing leaves, the tree can conserve energy by simply dropping the leaves, like it does before it goes dormant in the winter,”

CaliforniaFallColor.com has been monitoring what’s happening across the country. California isn’t the only location where drought is a factor. Minnesota and Colorado have been experiencing a dryer than normal summer with naturalists predicting early fall color.

In Western Massachusetts, it’s the opposite. It’s been a wetter year than normal. So, you’d think they’d be predicting delayed color. Not so. Weakened maples were showing signs of change in early August and color spotters across Western Mass are gearing up for an early show.

In our experience, lots of water means the color appears as normally, but stays longer. Little water means some of the color begins to show sooner than normal and doesn’t last long. It’ll still be beautiful, but when we post “Go Now!”, we mean it. As soon as you see it Near Peak, go. Are you ready?

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