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Peak time to catch leaf colors hard to predict
Weather extremes have affected when leaves will change
A tree on Parkview Avenue in Martinsville reflects the changing fall colors. Due to the drought and temperatures being warmer and cooler than usual in the past three or four weeks, predicting the best time to observe fall colors is harder than usual, said a local horticultural extension agent. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
Thursday, October 18, 2012
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
If unpredictable weather lately has you confused, just think what it is doing to the trees.
Due to the drought and temperatures being warmer and cooler than usual in the last three or four weeks, “I think it has confused the biological clocks in the trees,” said Stuart Sutphin, a horticultural extension agent and former forester.
As a result, it is more difficult to predict when leaves will peak in color this autumn, Sutphin said.
His suggestion is to head to the Blue Ridge Parkway this coming weekend for peak color in Patrick County.
In Henry County and Martinsville, Sutphin suggested leaves may peak in color around Halloween, maybe around Oct. 27-31.
In some places the leaves may be as spectacular as usual, but in others, leaf color may not be as pretty, and it’s hard to predict where, he said.
The peak in color may be more stretched out this year, lasting perhaps a week instead of three or four days, he said.
Sutphin works in the Virginia Cooperative Extension office in Danville. He formerly worked for the Virginia Department of Forestry.
The Blue Ridge Parkway fall color report for Oct. 11 said, in part: “Many visitors have been frustrated trying to go to one spot on one day in October hoping to find the leaves in full color. A far better plan is to drive some distance on the parkway, changing elevations, and north-south orientation. Anyone who does this from now until mid- to late October will catch at least some of the pretty color that we’re famous for.”