Fall color update in Michigan for 2013

Timely rains and extended weather forecast bode well for Michigan fall color.

Arboretum mapleRecent rains in Michigan have been a good news-bad news scenario. The bad news: lawns are growing faster than most people care to mow. The good news: increased soil moisture should reduce early leaf-drop from maples and other trees that could have shortened our fall color season. In some parts of the state, warm weather in August caused leaves of some deciduous trees to begin turning color early or even drop, according to Michigan State University Extension. Recent rainfall has recharged soil moisture in many areas and should enable trees to hang onto their leaves well into our normal fall color season.

The current extended forecast for Michigan calls for slightly warmer and slightly wetter conditions than normal. This should produce a good, possibly longer than average, color season. The ideal scenario for fall color is clear days and cool nights along with adequate soil moisture to ensure that leaves don’t senesce early. Typical peak color in Michigan starts in early October in the western Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula and then spreads southward, peaking in mid-October in Mid-Michigan and late October near the Ohio and Indiana borders. Sugar maple and red maple trees usually provide the brilliant colors, while oaks and sassafras provide deeper red and orange.

For more information on fall color in Michigan and elsewhere, visit the USDA Forest Service Fall Color webpage.

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All photos Bert Cregg, MSU

Dr. Cregg's work is funded in part by MSU's AgBioResearch.

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