Fall colors less vibrant this year as we reach peak times for foliage

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COLUMBUS (WCMH)—We are arriving at peak fall color season in central and southern Ohio, more than a week later than usual due to the late-season warmth.

You may have noticed the color is a little less vibrant this year. What’s missing are the bright reds in the sugar maples and oaks, which are related to temperature and precipitation patterns in the early fall.

Green chlorophyll is essential for photosynthesis, which allows plants to create sugars through a chemical reaction involving sunlight. Bright, sunny days and longer, cool nights around the beginning of autumn bring increased sugar production in the leaves, revealing the yellow/gold (xanthophylls), orange (carotenoids) and red (anthocyanins) hidden pigments.

Our unusually warm weather and periods of overcast have diminished the red pigment, or anthocyanins in the leaves, taking away some of the contrast responsible for the more brilliant foliage displays.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources provides weekly fall color updates and videos pointing out the best spots around the Buckeye state, along with fall activities links that include scenic road trips and Ohio State Parks information.

Casey Burdick, an ODNR naturalist, added, “Due to the weather this year, some trees may keep some of their leaves until as late as mid-November,” which could extend the color season in southern Ohio a few more weeks.

To get the latest fall foliage status, you can go to fallcolor.ohiodnr.gov for the official state report.

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