Fall colors

General Discussions: ASK John: Fall colors

By live4this6 on Monday, August 18, 2008 - 11:14 pm: Edit Post

hey john, i was just curious, some years leaves change early and some years late, does it have more to do with the temperatures or the amount of sunlight, I was just curious of what ud have to say about it.


By admin on Tuesday, August 19, 2008 - 10:07 am: Edit Post


The main factor in the change of colors in the trees is something called photoperiod. That is simply the number of minutes of daylight in a day. As the minutes of daylight decrease, it causes many plants to shut down photosynthesis and either die (as in the case in plants like soybeans) or go dormant (as is the case with decidious trees).

The climate the plant lives in plays a bit of a role too. Areas where the climate is colder, the change will happen sooner. That is the reason why trees in the higher terrain of the central Rockies will change towards the end of September, while trees at the same latitude (same number of minutes of daylight) in areas like the southern Midwest will change color a few weeks later, towards the middle to end of October.

Other factors like stress from drought play a more important role in the changing of the colors early. Temps have just a very small role in causing the trees to change color much earlier or later for the same location.


By mezz on Tuesday, August 19, 2008 - 10:49 am: Edit Post

Here is an interesting link which goes into the detail of what, when, where, & why. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/fall_colors. -Mezz

By lenny on Tuesday, August 19, 2008 - 08:30 pm: Edit Post

My folks wan't to come up in the peak of the fall colors, any predictions as to the best few weeks for this?

By brad on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 - 09:32 am: Edit Post


For the Twin Lakes area, the first 7-10 days of October have been peak for the last 3-4 years. I've noticed that as you lose elevation (this area is considered the "high terrain") down into Ontonogan, Baraga or Houghton from this area the peak abates somewhat. I wonder if it's due to the proximity to Lake Superior and it's relative "warming" effect? Anyway, hope this helps in some way.

By admin on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 - 10:01 am: Edit Post


I would agree with Brad that the peak usually occurs around Oct 3-10 in your area and a few days later in the Keweenaw. Areas away from the influence of the lake turn quicker. Not enough elevation up here to make too much of a difference in the timing.

If we can get some good rains here in the next 2-3 weeks, should be a good show this year. Will certainly be better than the previous two years.


By lenny on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 - 10:54 pm: Edit Post

My folks are going to be up on the 19th-21st of sep. Looking for something special to do with them. Anybody know of anything going on that weekend.

By chevyman on Sunday, August 24, 2008 - 11:41 am: Edit Post

my i wife and i went up the 2nd weekend in oct. First time up there so had nothing to compare to but i thought it was good. Here are some pics

By frnash on Sunday, August 24, 2008 - 02:09 pm: Edit Post


Nice pix!
Do you recall exactly where these were taken?

By chevyman on Sunday, August 24, 2008 - 04:21 pm: Edit Post

the pictures were all taken in the keweenaw. We stayed in hancock and then just drove north. We got a map for like an auto tour. Just made the circle up there.

By frnash on Sunday, August 24, 2008 - 05:23 pm: Edit Post


I thought that just had to be the Keweenaw!
You're giving me a serious case of homesickness! :-)
Unfortunately I can't make it up there this year. :-(

If this year's a bust, then next year's a must! :-)

By frnash on Sunday, August 24, 2008 - 06:23 pm: Edit Post

While I'm at it, here's a bit more on the original question, from The Foliage Network:

Why do the leaves change color?
1. Introduction
2. Weather
3. Biology

Incidentally, the The Foliage Network's Midwest Foliage Reports haven't started yet this year, but they should be starting soon. (Usually in the first week of September, or very soon thereafter).


"During the months of September, October, and early November, The Foliage Network provides foliage reports which are updated twice per week. The updates are posted on Wednesday and Saturday. Visit this site to keep updated on the progression of the foliage season."

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