Press-Republican

Columns

September 30, 2013

Many factors influence fall color

The northeastern United States is one of the few locations in the world that develops intense fall color (along with northern areas of China, Korea and Japan), and in the Champlain Valley we are just hitting our stride. 

Many factors influence fall color. The yellow and orange pigments are always present in the leaves; they are just masked by the green chlorophyll until fall. As the leaves get ready to drop, the green fades away, revealing the yellows and oranges.

The red color that also contributes to the intensity of the purples and oranges is a result of accumulated sugars in the leaves. The red pigment it produces is called anthocyanin. The amount of red in the leaves is directly related to the weather that occurs while the leaves are turning. The weather during the growing season has little, if any, effect on fall color.

The best conditions for producing the red color are just what we’ve been having a lot of lately: cool nights and sunny days. Nina Bassuk from the Urban Horticulture Institute at Cornell University explains it this way: “It is this combination of sunny days and cool night temperatures during the time when leaves change color that determines whether it will be a good or great year for fall color. Rainy, overcast, warm weather during this time will produce a display rich in yellows but poor in reds.”

TREES AND COLOR

Each species of tree turns its own distinct color. For example, birches and Norway maples turn yellow, while sugar maples turn orange to orange-red, and our native red maples turn scarlet. Our native white ash trees turn beautiful shades of purple, while the green ash, which is the type sold in nurseries, turns yellow.

When you shop for trees to add to your landscape, consider their fall color. Many cultivars have been selected particularly for this. The serviceberry “autumn sunset” has pumpkin-orange fall color, while “cumulus” has yellow to orange-scarlet color. Within the red maples (not the red-leaved Norway maples such as “crimson king”) you can find many good choices.  “Autumn flame” has early, long-lasting red leaves in fall, while “northwood” has more of an orange-red color.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • clute_cropped.jpg When children are put at risk

    Adults who deal drugs, commit domestic violence and other crimes with kids present are guilty of yet another crime, writes columnist Penny Clute.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns

Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time