Wisconsin “Colorama” 2008 Expected to Arrive Around the Official Start of Fall

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Fall Colors should arrive about third week of SeptemberMADISON – The “official” start of fall, also known as the autumnal equinox, will arrive in Wisconsin between 9:30 and 10 a.m. on Sept. 23. But the “unofficial” start of fall – the changing color of leaves – will probably begin a bit earlier. That’s the consensus of staff with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources forestry program. While fall color isn’t very evident anywhere in Wisconsin as of the first week of September, Virginia Mayo Black, a DNR Forestry Division communication specialist, says “foresters throughout the state are saying the trees in their area will probably turn color starting the third week of September.”

Weather is probably the most important factor in how colorful leaves will be in the fall,” Mayo Black said. “Weather affects photosynthesis. Weather can also be a stress factor for trees. Ample rainfall in the summer leads to healthy trees, and that means the leaves will have beautiful and bright fall colors. The leaves of trees growing in drought conditions won’t be quite as colorful. The leaves may turn color even before the start of meteorological Autumn, or they can fall off altogether.”

Although Wisconsin has seen some challenging weather conditions this growing season, Mayo Black said it appears fall 2008 will be colorful.

Some of the best places to enjoy autumn in Wisconsin is at Wisconsin’s state forests – Black River, Brule, Flambeau, Gov. Knowles, Havenwoods, Northern Highland-American Legion, Point Beach, Peshtigo River, and all of the Kettle Moraine units, as well as Wisconsin’s State Parks, according to Mayo Black.

As we approach fall, the amount of daylight decreases and trees produce less chlorophyll. When that happens, other pigments that have been present in leaves throughout the growing season but were not seen as a result of the vast amount of chlorophyll begin to appear as yellow and orange and red and purple.

Fall colors generally appear first in the north and then progress southward over time giving folks a number of weekends to see fall forest colors in different areas of the state.

“This may also be a good year for people to talk a walk in their neighborhoods and enjoy the trees at their local parks or nature areas,” she said. “Enjoying Wisconsin’s natural beauty is one of the joys of living in this state.”

Some residents and visitors to the Badger State have reported seeing leaves on a few trees already turning color. Mayo Black said the most likely reason for that is stress.

“When a tree is stressed – from drought or from too much water, from disease, from the soil around the tree being tightly compacted, or from some other injury – those factors can cause the leaves of a tree to turn color or drop off altogether,” Mayo Black said. “Those factors have nothing to do with the reason why the leaves of deciduous trees change color in the fall.”

As of September 9, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Fall Color Report (exit DNR), has nearly all locations reporting little color change. As the amount of daylight decreases, Mayo Black said, more and more trees will start showing their Autumn colors.

In addition to the Department of Tourism’s Internet site, information on fall color can be obtained by visiting The Foliage Network at www.foliagenetwork.com and the U.S. Forest Service at [www.fs.fed.us] (both links exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Virginia M. Mayo Black 608.261-0763.