Happy Fall!

     Today is the Autumnal Equinox when there will be equal hours of day and night; twelve hours of each.  It also marks the beginning of fall but it’s difficult to believe it is only beginning now.  The fall colors are vibrant and some leaves are already falling from the trees.  People always want to know when the colors will be in their peak, but predicting that is like trying to predict the weather.   

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    The weather plays a major role in determining when the leaves begin to change their colors.  Temperatures that are warm and sunny will determine how long chlorophyll stays in the leaves.  The amount of rainfall and when during the season it occurs can affect the brilliance of the colors as well as the amount of moisture in the soil. The longer nights and shorter days will make the production of chlorophyll slow down.

     In the fall, trees and plants stop making the chlorophyll that gives leaves their green color.  When this green color is no longer made the other colors in the leaf show through. The leaf may then appear yellow from the pigment xanthophyll or orange from the orange-red tones of carotene (this is what makes carrots orange, too). There are also a group of red and purple pigments called anthocyanins. The color of the autumn leaf depends on which of the pigments is most plentiful in the leaf.  To find out information about the current fall colors you can check out the DNR website or call 888-MINNDNR.

     It doesn’t matter when the leaves decide to change colors, peak, or fall off of their trees, fall is here.  It’s an awesome time of the year to get out and enjoy the woods so come on up and determine for yourself if it is the peak.  I recently read a quote that said, "The peak is when you are on the peak. "  If you are out enjoying the colors, the scents and the sounds of the forest, then that is a peak, a peak experience for you to enjoy and remember.