Fall color prediction 2017

By Claude Stephens

Phenology: noun, a branch of science dealing with the relations between climate and periodic biological phenomena (such as bird migration or plant flowering)


For the past six years, we have been watching the early signs of fall. Through daily and weekly photographs throughout the season, we have gained a better knowledge of what to look for in terms of clues that might predict what is to come. Here are some of the things we have observed this year:

  • Maples are often some of the first trees to start showing fall color.  Color shows up first on the outer tips of the top most branches.  The last leaves to fall are those closest to the tree core.  This fall the color change is pointing to full color in late October and the early indication is that they will be brighter than many years.
  • In a pecan that we watch daily there is more yellow in the leaf change than many years.
  • Bald cypress first turn yellowish and then cinnamon brown.  This year they are beginning to change earlier than in the past two years.
  • We also take wide landscape views of tree lines. A general scan if you will. There seems to be more color in the early photos from this year over past years.

Having watched fall color’s arrival for a while, some of these predictions are just a gut feeling, but observations from the past help to guide these kinds of guesses.

Stay tuned to Bernheim’s social media (@bernheimforest) for current photos of changing leaves and other fall changes.

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