The vibrant sea of reds, yellows and oranges in the Fall season is one of the best nature scenes of the year.  The beautiful colors are a major draw for color touring tourists throughout the Midwest and Northeast parts of our country as well as many other areas.  The timing of this typically ranges from late September through October.

Sometimes though you may start seeing some trees along the roadway or even in your yard starting to change colors as early as of right now or in the coming weeks.  Why is that?  Why do some trees change color so much earlier than the others?  To answer that, let’s first start with why deciduous trees change color in the Fall.

Trees leaves begin to change color due to the lack of chlorophyll production in the leaves.  Chrlorophyll is a plant pigment in plants responsible for the absorption of light in order to aid the process of photosynthesis.  As the chlorophyll absorbs light it displays the green color that we see in the leaves of plants.  As trees prepare for the winter season, they begin to shut down and stop producing chlorophyll until the following Spring.  A plant may also stop producing chlorophyll if it perceives a threat to it’s well being.  Threats could be a variety of stresses such as insects/disease, drought, nutrient deficiencies, etc.  Those trees displaying Fall colors early most likely are dealing with one or more of these stresses.

So, what can you do to help out those trees in your landscape that may be displaying Fall colors too soon?  First, be on the lookout for this early expression of Fall colors and if you notice it, then start identifying things that may be impacting the tree.  Is the tree receiving approximately 1” of rainfall/watering per week?  Is there excessive disease or insect activity on the tree?  Was the soil surrounding the tree recently disturbed resulting in potential root damage (i.e. construction work, sidewalk install, deck installation, etc.)  Many of these stresses can best be assessed by an ISA Certified Arborist who can then determine the best course of action to treat the stresses impacting the tree.

Typical urban landscape settings can be a very stressful environment for a tree.  Routine maintenance of your trees over the course of their lives is the best way to keep your trees in the best health possible.  So keep an eye out for trees turning color early and try and see if you can identify some things that may be causing this

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