Premature Fall Colors

Early Fall MapleAs we anxiously await nature’s finest show, fall foliage, we may have noticed premature colors already appearing on certain trees. While you may delight in seeing the early reds and yellows, these changes can be a sign that your tree is stressed.

Diseased or Weakened Trees

Premature colors can be an indication that a tree isn’t vigorous enough to withstand insect and disease attacks. Occasionally only one or two limbs of the tree will show premature fall color. This could mean a tree already has a disease, weakening only the infected limbs. The more common situation however, is for the entire tree to exhibit premature fall coloration, which usually means root-related stress. A tree responds to this stress by trying to curtail its above ground growth.

Organic Fall Fertilization

The record-breaking rains in June blighted our maples, crabs, dogwoods and some ashes with fungus, resulting in leaf anthracnose. They are experiencing early fall defoliation and little color change due to their extreme weakened state. In addition, these trees could have winter kill symptoms such as flower bud loss and selective branch dieback. An organic fall fertilization is recommended to help their recovery next spring.

Contact us for advice

Last season’s severe drought, along with the hot, dry conditions of September, numerous leaf diseases, nitrogen-leaching from a wet spring, are all factors contributing to early fall foliage symptoms. If your trees are experiencing any symptoms, it is best to contact a certified arborist for specific advice for your trees.

How will Leaf-peeping be?

So, how will our leaf-peeping season be this year? The yearly variation in color intensity depends on different weather conditions. Differing amounts of rainfall, sunlight, temperature, humidity all affect how bright, how quickly and how long the season will be. With June’s abnormal amount of rainfall, and the extreme heat this summer and early fall, I am predicting a moderate, less brilliant show this year. Even the apple and pumpkin crops have been affected by June’s rains. Nevertheless, fall is still a spectacular time of year. And fortunately, there is always next year!


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