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Fall Colors Beginning To Show Across Iowa

This year may be a good one for leaf viewers, according to Jeff Goerndt, the State Forest section supervisor at the Iowa DNR.

“I think we’re going to have a decent fall color year because of the weather we’re currently having,” Goerndt says. “You get the best and brightest colors when you’ve got the kind of fall weather we are currently having with sunny days and crisp, cool nights. 

Typically, the best fall colors are in northeast Iowa, but there are some good areas in central Iowa too, says Goerndt. 

Leaves will change across northern Iowa between the last week of September to the second week of October. Central Iowa will see leaves changing from the first to third weeks of October. Southern Iowa will see leaves change from the second week to the end of October. 

What changes where is subject to weather. How vivid and how long leaves remain is also determined by weather, and the leaf-watching season can be cut short by strong wind events.

As days get shorter, trees release a chemical called phytochrome. This chemical slows down chlorophyll production and allows the tree go dormant. The loss of chlorophyll (which is green) allows the other colors of the leaves to show.

Leaf pigment is also influenced by the amount and acidity of sap in the trees. More acidic sap gives trees more reds and brighter colors. Less acidic saps gives trees duller and more yellow colors.

You can reach the DNR fall color hotline at 515-233-4110, and other fall color information can be found at www.iowadnr.gov/fallcolor

For those interested in planting trees which offer colorful autumn foliage, the State Forest Nursery is offering a Fall Color Specialty packet through the end of September.  Order your Fall Color Packets from the State Forest Nursery online at www.iowadnr.gov/nursery or by calling 515-233-1161. 

Packets include 50 vibrant red sugar maple; 50 deep red oak; 50 pumpkin-orange arrowwood viburnum; 50 radiant orange-purple aronia; and bonus 50 rustic purple black cherry. This colorful palette of native Iowa trees is compiled with autumn interest in mind.

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