For my money, this is the most beautiful time of year. Trees have exploded with color in the past few weeks.
Many had speculated that this year's fall foliage would be a bust.
The extreme heat and drought was said to limit the color we could expect. Those predictions were very wrong.
Healthy rains about a month ago fell just at the right time to rejuvenate the trees and made for the best fall color I've seen in years.
The two biggest factors that determine when leaves begin to show off are temperature and precipitation.
Leaves help produce food needed for tree's growth. The chlorophyll in leaves absorbs light and helps convert carbon dioxide to starch and sugar. But as the temperatures begin to cool, the leaves stop producing food and the chlorophyll breaks down, allowing the red and yellow pigments already present, to appear.
As the daylight hours get shorter and the night longer, we often have sunny and warm afternoons and very cool nights.
The sugar that was produced in the leaves during the daylight hours struggles to make it out of the leaves when the nights get cold. The sugar that remains in the leaves changes to a reddish colored pigment.
When the leaves begin to change color depends a lot on how soon our night's temperatures get cool. Ideally, you want lows in the mid to upper 40s for several weeks.
During this process a special layer of cells form and then gradually severs the stem that supports the leaf. The tree's natural process seals the cut and the leaf finally falls. Gusty autumn winds determine how long we get to enjoy the show. For me and my yard, the process is well underway. I've had a daily routine with my rake and what was once beautiful has now become a chore.
Before autumn winds drop them all, enjoy the reds, yellows, oranges, and scarlet color. Slow down, budget some time, to check out nature's show.
We've been showing a lot of beautiful autumn photographs on our newscasts. If you take one be sure to send us a copy to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Winter will be here soon enough. Let's enjoy fall.