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New England Fall Foliage May Disappoint Some This Year

By Joe Joyce, WBZ-TV
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(Photo credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

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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.

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