One of the best things about the fall season, apart from relief from the summer heat and a respite before winter’s chill sets in, is the opportunity to take in the majestic beauty of fall color!
According to the Wisconsin Fall Color report http://bit.ly/Q5vKx6, our St. Croix River valley should be at 25% color right now. However, as we all know, reports can be misleading. Because of the harsh, hot and dry summer this year, much of fall’s brilliance may be sparse and fleeting. Have you ever wondered what causes those leaves to change? We all know the cycle of events that moves vibrant green leaf filled trees toward their ultimate descent into the hibernation for winter. Spring Renewal, Summer Sizzle, Autumn’s shed all lead to the long Winter’s sleep. Ah, but do you really know what the process is? I didn’t, which led me on a search for information that I am gladly sharing with you now.
Put most simply, trees change color because the process of photosynthesis. While there are other colors hiding in the leaves, the chlorophyll produce inside of the leaves is green. This green chlorophyll is dominant and covers all of the other colors. Once the days begin to get shorter and the nights longer, the chlorophyll production slows down and stops; allowing the other colors to show. Our typical Mid-Western autumn weather of sunny days ending in cool but not freezing nights produce the most brilliant of Fall colors. Interestingly, any variance in environment; too cold, too hot, too rainy, affect how much Fall color we see.
What do you think? Are we sporting some brilliant Autumn red, gold, bronze or orange? Or did our scorching summer doom us to a drably brown fall?