Wisconsin’s fall color show is beginning in northern regions of the state, and the red, yellow and russet hues are expected to be spectacular, according to forestry specialists.
Weather during the growing season has been conducive to the quality of leaves that provide brilliant color, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said.
Peak fall color usually occurs in far northern Wisconsin during the last week of September and first week of October. However, significant color typically appears earlier in isolated, lower-lying areas by mid-September, Kirsten Held, DNR forestry outreach specialist, said.
“While we are beginning to see the showy maple trees turning red and the birch trees taking on a golden hue, it will take the oak trees a bit longer to yield their yellow, red and russet hues,” Held said.
A series of sunny, cool fall days and frost-free nights in September and October will result in the most vibrant color display, according to Carmen Hardin, DNR forestry sciences section chief.
“These weather conditions cause anthocyanins (pigments) to be produced by certain species of trees, which protect the leaves of the trees from the light as they are storing nutrients and sugars for the winter. This ultimately leads to the intense red, orange and purple coloration in the leaves,” she said.
The duration of the fall color season depends on the intensity of wind and rain, as high wind and driving rain can shorten the season, the DNR said.
Weather during the growing season is critical for the abundant quantity of leaves needed to provide the potential for an excellent fall color display, Hardin said.
"The 2015 growing season has been excellent across much of Wisconsin and the fall color season is anticipated to be spectacular," Hardin said.
So far this year, color change is starting to occur in certain species - especially the birch, basswood and red maple in spots across northern Wisconsin. With Wisconsin state forests, parks and natural areas conveniently accessible throughout the state, it's possible to follow the progression of fall colors from hundreds of locations.
Hardin said peak fall color varies slightly from year to year depending on the weather conditions, but the shortened day length is the primary trigger for trees to begin changing color.
The Wisconsin Department of Tourism has an online Fall Color Report and suggestions for fall color viewing and fall color events.
For current information on the current best fall color viewing areas in Wisconsin contact the Department of Tourism's Fall Color Hotline at 1-800-432-TRIP or online at the Fall Color Report on the Travel Wisconsin website.