Why is the leaf color “falling” behind this season?


Featured image about courtesy of John Kucko Digital

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Seeing a lot of green around lately? You’re not the only one. It’s no secret that Fall is settling in, but the fall color has been rather slow to appear lately. Meteorologist Christine Gregory takes a look at some of the culprits on the delay this season.

With the fall season already underway, the signs of change are now just barely starting to show as the nights grow longer and the temperatures get cooler, but the fall color we typically see at this point in the game has been a bit slower than in year’s past. 

During September and October of last year fall color was exploding across the region with vibrant colors seen in trees as far as the eye could see, but with temperatures falling well above climatic averages during the late summer and early fall months this year it’s caused a nearly two week delay in the pop of color around here.

By this point last year, Rochester had already seen 16 nights with temperatures in the 30s and 40s. This year, we’ve seen no 30s and only 7 nights in the 40s. On the other hand, while the weather has played a big part of this delay, an uptick in insects and pests that like to include tree leaves in their daily dining routine may also be to blame.

Daniel Weitoish, an Arborist at the Cornell Botanical Gardens says insects and pests such as Lymantria moths, formally known as Gypsy moths have had an impact on tree leaves over the past year. Other insects such as the Emerald Ash Borer have been a culprit as well, targeting and damaging many oak and ash trees across the region with both species often favoring higher elevations.

Daniel says as more pests continue to do damage and impact our trees, it’s likely we could see fewer species produce the fall color we’ve all grown to know and love in future years and fall’s to come.

So, if you’re looking to enjoy the fall foliage this season, the signs are slowly but surely coming together,  but patience and location will be key depending on what Mother Nature throws our way.

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