Forester Foresees Fantastic Fall Foliage

Fall kicked off this weekend and now many people are looking to the trees in the hopes of catching an eyeful of this year’s fall foliage, and for those people, a local forester has some good news: this year’s conditions have been nearly ideal for trees to boast resplendent autumn scenery. Steve Whitaker, district forester at the Jasper-Pulaski Tree Nursery, said he expects a colorful fall to begin soon as trees are already showing signs of turning colors.

Whitaker said some of the first trees that typically undergo the process of color change are the black gums and sassafrases, and it should be no more than a couple of weeks before they start getting into the peak of fall colors. Oaks, he said, are a little bit slower to turn and not quire as “showy,” but he said they do boast some good reds and browns and stick around until near the end of October.

Whitaker explained that as long as the area doesn’t suffer from a disaster or other unexpected change in weather, we can expect to see some great colors.

“The ideal conditions depend on the tree being in good shape going into the fall, which in this year, we had kind of a dry spot late in the summer but that probably did not affect the trees much. And so if we get sunny days without too much wind that might blow the leaves off as they turn, we should have a pretty colorful fall,” said Whitaker.

Unfortunately, the fall foliage is as fleeting as it is beautiful; trees, Whitaker explained, are generally pretty bare by the beginning of November. While some trees, such as oaks, hang on to their leaves for a long time, area residents will be burdened with the seasonal raking of leaves before too long. The bulk of abscission – that is, the leaves being shed from trees – should be done by the first week of November, leaving layers of leaves upon the ground.