Drought this summer devastated crops and turned lawns yellow. There was even speculation the dryness might impact the autumn display of colors. But so far the leaves look great!
The trees that were hit the hardest from drought were younger and newly planted trees. Some of these trees did lose their leaves and go dormant. But this number pales in comparison to the trees that kept their leaves, and are changing color now.
Robert Fisher, Certified Arborist and Owner of Nature's Way Tree and Shrub Care, said there is one major misconception about why leaves change color in the fall.
"It's not the frost that colors the leaves," said Fisher "I mean, it's nice to talk about Jack Frost sitting on the leaves and all that sort of thing. But that's not the… It's cooler temperatures and the shortening of the day length."
Fisher said the break down of chlorophyll during the fall is what gives autumn leaves their vibrant color.
In fact, a hard frost tends to have the opposite effect. Instead of turning leaves vibrant colors, it causes them to turn brown and die.
There are other environmental factors that play a part in the intensity of autumn leaves as well.
"The type of tree and the soil," said Fisher. "The more acidic soil tends to bring out the colors more. We have limestone soil… We tend not to have as brilliant of colors as some other areas of the country and other areas of the state."
The timing of peak autumn colors is dependant on the location and dominant tree species, but most years the Coulee Region sees its peak color in the beginning of October.
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