Trees are changing color because they are stressed

Weather News

(WWLP) – While leaf-peeping season is still a while away, some leaves are already starting to change color.

The notorious peak in leaf-peeping season comes in October for western Massachusetts with vibrant reds, oranges and yellows lighting up the area. But if you’ve taken a ride around recently, you may have noticed that some leaves are already starting to transition into different colors.

This early season change in color can be attributed to one thing… stress. Trees experience stress when the temperatures are too hot, or too cold and when there is too much or too little rain. This year, there is no question about what is causing the stress in trees, it’s the rain.

“It was the wettest July on record in Massachusetts in 127 years. Certain areas of the state received over a foot of rainfall.” Rick Harper, Extension Assistant Professor for UMass Community Forestry & Urban Landscaping

Too much rain sends the tree into conservation mood. This stops the growing process and trees must then figure out how to deal with the surplus of water. The main reason we start to change color in September and October is because the amount of daylight, gets shorter.

Even though there has been a change in the amount of daylight we have been experiencing, there hasn’t been a substantial change. When it starts to get dark around 5-6 p.m. is when these trees start to change color.

“But temperature, rainfall, frost all of those things can certainly interact and impact leave change as well.” Rick Harper, Extension Assistant Professor for UMass Community Forestry & Urban Landscaping

Trees are sensitive to all weather types and this summer has been brutal on trees with over a foot of rain recorded in some areas during the month of July. Rick said that every year there are fluctuations that change when trees start to change their color.

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