September 23, 2013
Today marks the first full day of fall. Our mornings are cooler and the daylight hours are getting shorter but the season isn't the only thing changing. The leaves are also starting to show signs of changing color.
Jack Kauffman, Forester at Virginia Department of Forestry, said, "The first ones to change will be the yellow poplar or tulip popular which will turn yellow."
This summer, there was plenty of rain for the trees to stay green and not prematurely change color. However, the summer's weather doesn't have much to do with how colorful the fall leaves will be. It all comes down to September's weather to determine how brightly colored October's leaves will be.
Kauffman said, "Sunshiney days where the trees are producing a lot of sugars and then cool, crisp nights above freezing will produce brilliant colors."
So far this month, the weather has been right on track for a vivid fall. In the next few weeks, the green mountains will turn shades of reds, yellows, and oranges. The peak of our fall foliage season here in Central Virginia typically occurs in mid October.
Each year, the fall foliage makes Central Virginia a popular tourist destination.
Lynn Graves, Owner of Graves Mountain Lodge and Orchard, said, "We have our Apple Harvest Festival three weekends in October. If the weather's good, we'll have about 10,000 people each day. People come for hay rides, to pick apples and hopefully see fall colors."
The leaves also make it difficult to find a place to stay in the mountains for fall foliage getaways, unless you planned way ahead of time.
Graves said, "Our rooms book from year to year. It fills up pretty quickly."
Kauffman said, "It's a wonderful time of year for those people to come out and enjoy and experience the outdoors."
Although the peak leaf season occurs in mid October, don't be surprised if you start seeing more and more colorful trees in the next couple of weeks.