Autumn color report: Reds, oranges — and some browns

Changing leaves widespread
The view Wednesday at Saratoga National Historical in Stillwater.
The view Wednesday at Saratoga National Historical in Stillwater.

Autumn colors are still on display in the Adirondacks.

But they could be fading fast.

“This is really the last chance to get up there and see anything in the Whiteface Mountain, Tupper Lake, Lake Placid areas,” said Eric Scheffel of Empire State Development, who on Wednesday issued the fifth “I Love New York” fall foliage report.

The update says brighter colors have emerged in the Adirondacks. The Whiteface palette includes red, yellow, orange and green, and leaves will also be at peak in Minerva.

“We’re sort of stuck in the middle, in the mid-point range of foliage change,” Scheffel said of leaf colors in the Capital Region. “We’ve got some reports of near peak coming in from Lapland Lake in Northville.

“Saratoga County will be near or at peak with 75 percent color change,” Scheffel added. “Most of Albany County is in the mid-stage of change, except out in western Albany County near Thacher State Park, where they’re expecting 70 to 80 percent change and near peak to peak.”

Scheffel believes warm weather during late summer and early fall has delayed color changes in some areas. Other factors have also played a part.

Jerry Carlson, a research scientist for the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s lands and forest division, said a problem began during mid-summer. He had heard reports that leaves in hardwood trees began showing spots and turning yellow and brown in early August.

“That’s a result of a wet post-growing season, like in July and early August,” Carlson said. “It was quite wet this year and fungal diseases, which are always on the surface on the leaves, when they get that wet, warm action, the leaf doesn’t fight them off.”

Without resistance, Carlson said, the fungi will colonize leaves.

“And they kill the leaf, or at least cause it to be sick and when it gets sick, it turns brown, yellow and a lot of trees actually prematurely drop their leaves,” Carlson said.

Tar spot has affected Norway maples, but Carlson said trees face threats from many different fungi. “Tar spot is most obvious to people,” he said.

September weather has also affected this fall’s color show.

Carlson said the month has been warm, and sharp sunlight and cold nights have been absent. “That’s what causes the sugars in the leaves that lead to the red and the oranges and the purples,” he said.

Carlson also said he believes conditions that produce fewer colors in September and October are rare.


Here are color expectations in other parts of the state, according to the report:

  • Saranac Lake: peak foliage is expected.
  • Inlet: 90 percent color change and shades of bright yellow and orange on display.
  • Old Forge: 85 percent color change.
  • Lake George: mid-point to near peak in northwestern sections of Warren County.
  • Glenville: bright oranges on the rise, adding to existing shades of reds, yellows and golds. Range of change is 35 to 40 percent.
  • Howes Cave: peak foliage expected this weekend with 50-60 percent color transition and assortment of fall colors.
  • Schoharie County State Historic Site: foliage is expected to reach mid-point this weekend, with deepening reds.
  • Goshen: spotters expect colors near peak this weekend in Orange County.
  • Poughkeepsie: 25 percent color change.

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124, [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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