© 2023 WSKG

601 Gates Road
Vestal, NY 13850

217 N Aurora St
Ithaca, NY 14850

FCC Public Files:
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Foliage experts anticipate a good leaf peeping season

Fall foliage at Macomb State Park, October 2019
Pat Bradley
Fall foliage at Macomb State Park, October 2019

Fall foliage reports are being issued and colors are beginning to emerge as the days shorten and become cooler.

The first fall foliage report has been issued by New York’s I Love NY tourism agency. So far parts of the Adirondacks, Catskills, Thousand Islands and the Chautauqua-Allegheny regions are expecting a 10 to 20 percent color change by this weekend with orange and yellow colors dominating over a touch of red.

Northeast Regional Climate Center Director and Cornell University professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Arthur DeGaetano is optimistic that the region will see a quintessential fall foliage season.

“The summer conditions really didn’t show anything that would adversely affect the foliage. Now that we’re going into the fall season really what we’re looking at the first thing that’s going to signal the trees to start to change color is the decrease in daylight. The other thing that really triggers them to really start to change is the cooler temperatures. And over the next few days, actually over the next week, we’re probably likely to see that signaling in temperatures. Days that are still fairly warm and sunny, 60s and 70s, and overnight lows dropping into the 40s and boy maybe even up in the North Country seeing some 30s next week is a possibility. So I think that’s really going to get the season going.”

In Vermont the entire state is in the early stage of color change. Josh Halman is Forest Health Program Manager at the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation.

“There’s a few different colors that are dominant when we think of fall foliage. You have your yellows and oranges and reds are the trifecta that people think of with fall color. And some of those operate a little differently. So for instance the yellows and the oranges are compounds that are actually in the leaves throughout the growing season but you don’t see them until the chlorophyll, the green in the leaf, degrades in the fall and then those colors are unmasked if you will. The reds on the other hand are generated at this time of year and oftentimes cool nights and bright sun during the days can help generate more of that red pigment that’s in the foliage. That’s why those conditions can really help with the vibrancy of the foliage.”

It has been a rainy summer and some areas, especially in Vermont, experienced catastrophic flooding in July. Halman says the excess water affected some, but not all, species of trees.

“The concern for some trees is that because of all the rain there have been some fungal pathogens that have wound up on some leaves. And so driving around you might see some trees that have a little more of a yellow, maybe auburn, kind of coloration to the leaves. It’s a little different than normal. And those are turning a little earlier as well. There’s kind of two different stories. The flooding affected trees directly and immediately and the long season of rain had impacts on trees beyond those watersheds. So there have been effects from excessive water. But just because we had a flood event doesn’t mean that the fall foliage season is going to be a bust.”