Without a doubt, October is my favorite month of the year. The first tinges of the cooler temperatures that lie ahead provide a refreshing reprieve from those brutal summer temperatures we endured this year. Most days being outside is like natural air conditioning, rarely too hot or too cold.  What I love most of course, is the fall color.

While science continues to try and understand exactly what happens at this time of year, we do know for certain the three things that influence fall color. They are the leaf pigments, the weather, and most importantly, the increasing hours of night. The veins that carry water into leaf gradually close off, trapping sugars, as nights grow longer. During this time, biochemical processes continue in our trees, turning the landscape into a mosaic of yellow maples, red sourwoods and oaks, purple dogwoods, and the golden bronze of the hickories.

A graphic showing the peak times for Fall Leaf color in North Georgia.Every October I am asked if I think we will have a good fall color season. Some years they are dull and muted and there are those years when the countryside looks like it’s on fire. I tell people it really depends on the weather. Here is what we need for spectacular fall color. First, we need a long string of sunny and warm days. At night, we need cool temperatures, but not freezing. The first part of our autumn equation is in our favor, but not the second. Our 90 day autumn outlook continues to show warmer than normal temperatures but also is suggestion above normal rainfall as well.

While these warm temperatures are beneficial, anything too warm, will make the color less intense. A lot of rain is never a good thing for brilliant fall color. Heavier rains also cause the leaves to fall off the trees faster, making for a shorter season.

This autumn I would say might be a little muted due to the increased rain predicted. (You can track Georgia’s fall colors live by going to www.exploregeorgia.org.) Typically in Georgia, this map shows the best times to see peak fall color.

I hope you have a wonderful October and be sure to come back next month, as we will have a better handle on what this winter may hold in store for us.