Fall foliage past peak for most of western Massachusetts

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CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Now that we are in the month of November, fall foliage is starting to wind down in the Pioneer Valley.

This year’s fall foliage hasn’t been as vibrant as years past, and there is a reason for that. Trees lose leaves in three different steps. First, they stop growing by pulling the sugar from the leaf back into the tree. Then, they enter the terminal phase.

“Right now we are in the terminal phase, so essentially in the terminal phase, this is where you have complete cellular breakdown of organelles in the leaf itself,” said Rick Harper, Extension Associate Professor at UMass Amherst.

Lastly, they go through the incision layer, which forms a thin layer at the stem of the leaf, so that there is no damage is done to the tree.

As for color, leaves haven’t been as bright this year. The reason the fall foliage wasn’t very vibrant this year is because of the amount of rain we got during the summer and during the month of September. Trees essentially get overwhelmed with the amount of water and don’t know what to do with it.

Compared to average, our peak fall foliage is slowly becoming later and later each year. “Fall foliage occurring later. The rule of thumb that is out there is about a day later per decade, so really since the 50s/60s we see now about a week or so later in terms of fall foliage,” Harper continued.

As for this year, the majority of the region is past peak, according to the foliage report. This serves as a good reminder to get outside and enjoy the very last of the trees changing color.

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