Fall Foliage Update
In our area where nature is a top attraction, every season has its beauty.
Especially after a hot and sticky summer, there’s nothing like an Adirondack Autumn.
The lakes in which we cooled off during the dog days of summer now provide a perfect canvas for reflecting the brilliant hues of reds, oranges and yellows that color our mountainous landscape and sparkle against a bright blue sky.
We welcome the new crispness in the air that pairs perfectly with an Oktoberfest brew or hot toddy made with local spirits.
It’s a great season to get outdoors and hike or kayak with minimal insects and cooler temps so you don’t overheat — not to mention the stunning colorful views of an ancient landscape sculpted by glaciers.
In our area, according to the New York State fall foliage update, our color change is ranging between 10 and 20 percent right now (the last week of September and first week of October). At this time, there are many of shades of red emerging in the leaves.
August is usually the month when we start getting questions from travelers asking about the best time to visit in the fall.
Unfortunately, we don’t know for sure. Even if we could predict the peak, a freak snow storm or a heavy rain with gusty winds could knock the leaves to the ground.
However, we do know in general which weather conditions lend themselves to a colorful fall. It starts in the spring growing season when the trees first bud. We hope for a wet spring. From summer to autumn, we look for sunny days and cooler nights. During the autumn, calm days are ideal so the leaves have enough time on the branches for their chlorophyll to fade. The beautiful colors of fall have been in the leaves all along, but they are dormant while chlorophyll causes them to look green. Cool temperatures — but not freezing temps or early frosts — are ideal in Autumn for a vibrant season.
What causes the colors to emerge? It’s all part of the growth cycle.
Leaves produce energy for plants. They capture sunlight, which works with carbon dioxide and water to produce sugars and oxygen. You might recognize that process as photosynthesis. Chlorophyll, which makes leaves look green, is the plant molecule essential for the process of photosynthesis. With diminishing sunlight, chlorophyll levels decrease and the other pigments in the leaves are reveled.
The length of daylight begins to lessen at the summer solstice. Nights continue to lengthen and cool as the season progresses toward Autumn and the tree’s cells start creating a seal between the branches and leaves as they prepare for winter when they’re aren’t enough resources — like light and water — to grow. The tree’s cells create a membrane to stop nutrients from flowing to the leaf, which stops chlorophyll production. As the remaining chlorophyll decomposes, the green color fades to reveal other pigments in the leaves like reds, oranges and yellows.