Friday, September 17, 2021

Minnesota fall colors can be early and muted this season

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Fall colors in Minnesota can be “leaf” Some people are feeling let down this autumn season.

According to Val Cervenka, the Minnesota Department of Forest Health Program Coordinator, those brilliant bright reds, bright oranges and golden yellows we’ve come to expect across the state, once the days get shorter and chilly silence, can appear and here Even this year may reveal itself prematurely. of natural resources.

The change is due to the state experiencing its worst drought since 1988, which has caused stress for trees and plants during the growing season. Some trees respond to drought stress by skipping a change in fall color altogether, while the leaves of other trees turn brown and drop more quickly than usual.

Cervenka explained that trees continually lose moisture from their leaves, but when in drought, many shed them to conserve moisture. They will become inactive as soon as possible in the fall to conserve stored energy, which will result in them being distracted from their color display.

“Dry fall makes colors appear early and also dulls them, so we can expect to see less brightness this year,” Cervenka said. “Trees need to be healthy in fall for good color. If they aren’t healthy — if they are stressed by lack of water — they’re not going to produce those colors.”

early color fall

Fall colors in Minnesota typically peak from mid-October to mid-October, beginning in the northernmost part of the state and working south.

However, the DNR launched its annual Fall Color Finder map two weeks ago this year, as some trees were already turning up in August due to drought. The map shows the percentage of leaves in their peak color across the state and will be updated weekly through October.

Cervenka, who lives in St. Paul, said it’s difficult to predict how autumn will (or won’t) develop across the state this year. For example, she has already seen foliage fall in the Twin Cities for weeks, but recently visited the Gunflint Trail along the North Shore and noticed very little color change.

In a typical year, peak fall color lasts about two weeks, but can vary widely depending on location, altitude, and season. Additionally, trees at higher altitudes are the first to show color changes.

“Peak length really depends because if there’s a big thunderstorm or thunderstorm at any of these places, the leaves can fly away because they’re ready to go anyway,” Cervenka said. “When leaves are changing color, there is a layer of cells where the leaf attaches to the twig and that layer of cells enlarges, causing the leaf to eventually drop.”

Where to See Fall Colors in Minnesota?

In places where the US Drought Monitor records a D4-level (the highest and most severe level), Cervenka predicts that much of the fallen foliage will be buried by the drought.

And even if it rains throughout September in drought-prone areas, it will still be too late to help the trees. The effects of the drought won’t even be known until next year — perhaps even further, Cervenka said.

“If the leaves are already brown, they won’t back down. Trees that are under stress are going to be under stress. We have to rain a lot from now until frost to get the trees out of stress,” said Cervenka Said. “But if it does, it’s more a question of whether these trees will make it through the winter, whether these trees will be able to recover well enough for good fall color.”

Yet, for now, she stresses that by milking this season’s sour lemons, leaf peepers are still able to make lemonade — just deep enough to see the vibrant pockets of color spilled on dry spots. must be observed; Or a trip to a new and unlikely place where the conditions are better.

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Minnesota fall colors can be early and muted this season
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