Fall Color Report

Fall Color Peak Map

Map Conceived by Dr. Howard Neufeld and Michael Denslow
Map Constructed by Michael Denslow

2017 UPDATES

For the 6th year in a row WataugaRoads.com & WataugaOnline.com is teaming up with Dr. Howard Neufeld, Professor of Plant Eco-physiology at Appalachian State University, better known as The Fall Color Guy to provide information as the colors start changing.

Dr.Neufeld shared some thoughts just before previous fall seasons that are still relevant for this, or any, fall season:

As for wet weather, there have been some publications on the impacts of weather on fall color (especially timing, not so much quality). Precipitation has only minor effects on timing in the fall. Temperature is more important. So, at this point, I don’t see anything to make me think that fall colors will be adversely affected, either in timing or quality.

What happens in mid- to late August and in September, temperature-wise, will be more important, especially for quality (notably the intensity of the red colors)”.

People think fall colors are good when they last a long time, and have plenty of brilliant reds interspersed with the oranges and yellows. So, the quality will depend on how much “redness” we have this fall.

Trees tend to make more red colors (anthocyanins) in the fall when it’s cool and sunny, and if we have a slight but not severe drought.

Sunny days means more photosynthesis, and more sugars produced in the leaves, and sugars induce anthocyanin production.

A slight drought impairs uptake of nitrogen (we think) and some experiments suggest that plants low on N make more anthocyanins.

Usually, fall colors peak around Oct 11-14 in the Boone area; sooner by a few days up to a week at higher elevations, later at lower ones. Nice colors can stick around for a week or more, although the peak usually comes and goes in just a few days, weather permitting (no high winds for example)”.

Fall Color 101


Fall Color Report for Week of August 13, 2017

Well, there haven’t been many developments since my post last week. I do include a picture of the dogwoods across the street from my house. You can definitely see them starting to color up.Otherwise we continue in our late summer weather pattern, with higher humidities, making it very muggy here. Still getting ample rain too. Hope everyone has a great week.

 


Fall Color Report for Week of August 6, 2017

It has been an unusually cool summer here in the High Country. Morning temperatures have been as low as 48F, and this past week, in the low 50s. We had to put on a blanket last night it got so cool! Daytime highs struggle to get in middle or high 70s. And the humidity has been low. Absolutely perfect weather.

Some trees have already decided that it’s time to prepare for the upcoming fall. The dogwood in my yard has already started turning purple. Note also on the whole tree photo (below) that the purpling is most noticeable on the left side of the tree – that’s the side that gets morning sun. My thought is that trees turn early on their east sides because that’s when they get the combination of both cool temperatures and high light. And those together can cause leaves to suffer photo-inhibition and cellular damage. By producing the purple pigment, which is an anthocyanin (the same compound that colors strawberries and roses) they protect their leaves from photo-inhibition. This in turn, allows them more time to withdraw nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, back in to their leaves for use next year when they make new leaves.

Off the mountain, I’ve noticed that the tulip poplars have been losing a lot of leaves (they turn yellow then brown/black). According to the NC Climate Office, it has been a very hot summer in the Piedmont region of the state, and tulip poplars are sensitive to water stress, and maybe heat stress too. I haven’t seen the same leaf loss up here in the mountains. And we’re ahead in terms of rainfall this year.

Lastly, as happens every year at this time, the black locust are being attacked by the locust leaf miner, a native insect that eats the leaves and turns them brown. It doesn’t seem to hurt the trees too much, but does look bad as you drive down the road.

That’s the latest update from the High Country. Enjoy these last days of summer. Remember, there will be a total eclipse on August 21st. DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE ECLIPSE WITHOUT SUITABLE EYE PROTECTION. AND BEWARE OF USING REGULAR OR FAKE SUNGLASSES – REGULAR GLASSES WON’T PROTECT YOU AND THEIR ARE FAKES OUT THERE THAT WON’T EITHER. CONSULT YOUR TV STATIONS FOR REPUTABLE SUNGLASS SELLERS.

 

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