New England Fall Foliage May Disappoint Some This Year

By Joe Joyce, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – It was was record breaking Columbus Day weekend as over a half million leaf peepers flocked to the Granite State in search of brilliant fall colors. So far reviews have been mixed.

“I have been disappointed with some of the broad vistas I have seen the mountain tops, the mountain valleys. It’s been kind of muted.”

“The oak leaves have not turned yet and looking at the hillsides, almost half the hillside seem to be green.”

WBZ-TV’s Joe Joyce reports

These are some of the things you may have heard from people who have taken a recent road trip.

John Nute is a forester for the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. He says he is surprised by the variability in this foliage season.

GUIDE: New England Fall Foliage

“It’s a real head-scratcher why the trees are not as uniformly colorful as in past years.”

We had ten days of rain back in May and that set off a lot of fungus problems in leaves.

“We definitely had more Anthracnose fungus infection this year than previous years so maybe that is contributing the less colorful foliage.”

Though a warm and wet growing season is great for the overall health of the trees, it is a widespread killing frost which helps to trigger the bright colors and it just hasn’t happened yet.

“We haven’t had the series of cold frosts to end the season and get the chlorophyll drained from the leaves and have those bright pigments which are behind the chlorophyll to pop out and give that color we all love to see.” says John Nute.

“It’s muted the colors, not the bright reds, but lots yellows and browns and golds. The window for the bright reds is rapidly passing.”

So despite the muted color on some of these leaves, even less banner foliage season is still good in New England. As temperatures continue to cool and frost becomes more likely, the colors will head south in a hurry. With the foliage season running approximately 2 weeks behind schedule because of the warm weather, we can expect the foliage season to last into November.

On a side note, the impact of Tropical Storm Irene on foliage have been minimal in New Hampshire. The foliage has been more directly impacted along the immediate coast from the South Shore to Cape Cod and the Islands, where many trees have dead or wilted leaves from Irene’s salty sea spray.

  • ann

    i was at white Mt the color was nice but some of place was not that much color
    and i was also in top loon MT thats was nice on top.
    Still we had good time at NH hope to get back there next summer
    have good day

  • Vistaphotography

    Actually your statement is inaccurate. A killing frost is just what we don’t want to see. I killing frost in the mid to low 20s will send the leaves straight to brown and fall off.
    What we DO want to see is a light frost in the low 30s at night and just as important is to follow that with a bright sunny day in the 50s or even the 60s. But if we start hitting the upper 70s to low 80s then that will also put a hold or at least a slow down on the leaves changing color. I’m a New England photographer and I have spent a good bit of the past 10 years watching the weather and impact it has on New England’s fall foliage and I’ve been asked many times about a killing frost and that is never a good thing to have happen.

    Jeff Foliage

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