Sunday, September 14, 2014

2014 Fall Colors in Illinois - What to Expect

What Colors Will Fall Bring?

Fall is definitely on its way. Little leaves here and there have already started to change colors around us in Northern Illinois. Before you know it, we'll be surrounded by bright yellow, orange, red and purple leaves.

Do you know what makes the leaves change colors? And do you know why each year the same trees'
leaves will show different fall colors? Well, the answer certainly isn't an easy one. We need to consider many factors like chlorophyl, tannins, xanthophylls, artenoids, among a host of other things. Trees are complex living things, so let me see if I can make this as simple as possible.

I can boil this down to 1 thing: weather. In a very abbreviated version, I can tell you that autumn leaf coloration and intensity is different each year because of the weather. The amount and exposure of colored chemicals in leaves depend on the weather. Green chlorophyll disappears fastest during an autumn with bright sunlight and cold days. This disappearance quickly exposes the leaves' orange and yellow pigments to view. Dry weather concentrates sugar in the cell sap, which speeds up the manufacture of red compounds. So the most colorful autumns depend on the weather. Dry, sunny days of an Indian summer that are followed by cool, dry nights will create the best season for the fall leaf show. You can predict good viewing if you analyze the weather conditions. So, bright, sunny, cold days mean orange and yellow leaves. Dry, sunny days and nights equal more reds. And an Indian summer should yield a spectacular color show. Can anyone take a stab at what they think we're going to get this year?

When Is the Peak of the Season?

You'll have to wait a few more weeks to find out for sure. The dates for peak fall foliage for Illinois are: (Northern) Oct. 5-21; (Southern) Oct. 12-28. 
Until then, let's hope for some temperate, dry weather.

Thanks for reading,

Jenni, President and CEO Trees R Us, Inc.

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