Fall foliage expected to peak around October 21

Itâ??s that time of the year. The cooler nights, the smell of apple pie-and if youâ??ve been out enjoying the first signs of fall, youâ??ve probably noticed a few tree leaves changing colors. But, have you ever wondered what makes some seasons brighter than others?

"Itâ??s not so much the rainfall that happens or doesnâ??t happen up to this point, although if itâ??s a really dry year your colors are enhanced," explains Dr. Donald Leopold of SUNY ESF. "Itâ??s really about whatâ??s happening this week, last week, and next week that is really going to make a difference in the fall coloration."

If all goes according to plan, Dr. Leopold says this should be a pretty good year.

"The fall colors in Central New York peak around October 21, give or take three or four days. This year, this kind of weather - the clear days, the nights above freezing but very cool - those are the ideal conditions for maximum fall color development," he says."

Dr. Leopold says the only things that could really put a wrench in our fantastic fall foliage forecast would be strong winds and heavy rain. Barring that, the hillsides will flourish.

But what about those early changers? Dr. Leopold, standing in front of one of the first trees to start changing colors on the SUNY ESF campus, says, "Iâ??ve walked by this tree every year for 28 years, and the reason that this one is turning is because of the exposure of the sun. It is really in the peak location to get the maximum sun all day. So, thereâ??s another sugar maple right behind us that doesnâ??t get any sun until the later half of the day. A lot of it is driven by the amount of sunlight."

Given the recent stretch of sunny days and cool, clear nights, it looks like weâ??re on track for some quintessential Upstate New York fall foliage over the next few weeks.

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