(WKBN) — Saturday marks the first day of fall, bringing with it the array of vividly colored leaves those of us living in Ohio come to look forward to every season. But when can we expect to see those colors this year?
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources went in-depth with David Parrott of the Division of Forestry in the video series Ohio Fall Color Forecast, discussing what Ohioans can expect to see in the fall of 2023.
When will the leaves change color this year?
Leaf colors throughout the state are expected to be most vivid from Oct. 9 through the 30. Peak colors will vary within that span of time depending on where in the state you are.
The northeastern corner of the state may see peak colors as early as Oct. 9, extending through the northern part of the state through roughly Oct. 16. Central Ohio will see peak color around Oct. 23. The southern part of the state will finally see peak color around Oct. 30.
Why do leaves change color in the fall?
Leaf colors are affected by a variety of environmental factors, including length of daylight, temperature, rainfall and wind. Bright sunny days, cool nights and a medium level of rainfall through September and October result in the most vivid colors.
Dry conditions, like much of the area experienced this year, can cause trees to be more stressed, leading them to lose their chlorophyll — the green pigment in leaves that captures light energy — early. This will cause the colors to change and drop their leaves earlier than other areas of the state that received higher levels of rainfall.
As long as an area gets enough rainfall without storms that could blow leaves off the trees, the combination of sunny days and cool nights is setting up the condition for beautiful vibrant colors this fall, according to Parrott.
In addition to weather conditions, a tree’s genetics can also have a major impact on the colors. There are over 125 different tree species in the state, each adding its own texture and color to the fall foliage. Some of the first tree species to change are buckeye trees, which will turn yellow or orange, and black gum trees, which will turn a bright red.
Not only are the colors of leaves on trees changing, but other plant life will add to the rainbow of colors as well. Poison ivy and Virginia creeper will experience a change, shifting from green to shades of yellow and deep reds.
As of the time of this article, the Ohio Fall Color Progress Map shows mostly green trees, but we can expect to see some early pops of color very soon.