JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – As the heat of summer fades into the cool weather of fall, trees and shrubs around the Show-Me State transform from leaves of green to a fall-foliage color palette of golds, reds, oranges, and purples.
Leaves turn colors when two things happen. First, sugars produced by photosynthesis are trapped inside leaves by chilly – but not freezing – autumn nights. Those sugars are the building blocks for red, yellow, orange, and purple pigments. Cool nights simultaneously cause the breakdown of green pigments, allowing these other colors to show through.
Missouri’s fall color starts in late September and usually peaks in mid-October. This progression of color change starts earliest in northern Missouri and moves southward across the state. Normally by late October, colors are fading and leaves are beginning to drop from trees. Generally, color change is predictable, but can vary year to year. Much depends on weather.
According to Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Community Forestry Program Manager Nick Kuhn, this year’s fall color is expected to be good due to several factors.
“A wet spring and cooler summer gave trees what they needed and extended springtime,” said Kuhn. “Healthy trees with lots of leaves and recent warm and dry weather brought trees fully into the summer season in expectation of good fall color. The final part for great color will be the right conditions in fall, and those are sunny days and cool nights with no frost or high winds.”
MDC can help folks discover fall color around the Show-Me State through weekly fall-color reports and a free fall-color mobile app.
MDC collects fall-color reports from foresters around the state and assembles them into weekly online updates at mdc.mo.gov/node/4548. The reports run from late-September through November. Fall-color forecasts for northern regions will be posted beginning Sept. 19. Forecasts for remaining regions will be posted beginning Sept. 26.
MDC also offers a free fall color application for smart phones and other mobile devices. The MO Fall Color app provides users with up-to-the-minute fall-color scenes from places near them and around the state, complete with GPS navigation information. The app also provides weekly fall-color reports for various areas of the state. Users can even add their own fall-color photos and share them with Facebook friends and others. The MO Fall Color app is active during fall-color changes beginning in September through November. Download MO Fall Color for Android and Apple devices at mdc.mo.gov/mobile/mobile-apps/mo-fall-colors.
Enjoy leaf color as well as local culture through the Missouri Division of Tourism’s website at visitmo.com. Find things to do, places to stay, events, trip ideas, and deals and discounts for all around Missouri. Visit Tourism’s blog site for info on fall festivals around the Show-Me State at blog.visitmo.com/fall-festivals-of-missouri/.