WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The weather is having an effect on the brightness of the fall leaves this season.
Purdue Associate Professor of Forestry Jeffrey Dukes said the fall foliage is just one more casualty of recent drought-like conditions. He said many areas in central Indiana will experience a shorter, duller fall season.
"If they've been water-stressed, they may not hold their leaves as long, and so it could be a shorter fall season than it sometimes is," Dukes said.
He said the lack of rainfall this season means leaves will turn brown and fall to the ground sooner. That means what leaves are left in the trees won't look quite as bright as years past.
"They will have lost some leaves, so they just won't pop the way they normally do," he said. "And some of them are going to be turning brown a little bit early."
But Dukes said it's not all bad news for fall. In fact, some of the recent weather patterns have been helpful for brightening leaves.
"But for the ones that haven't gotten water-stressed, they're going to be really nice, because we've got warm, sunny days and we've had some cool nights, and so that's really going to bring out some of the reds," he said.
Those vivid reds bring tourists to the Midwest year after year. So will Mother Nature's dimmer switch have an effect on tourism dollars?
"I think the people who are interested in the leaves are going to go out to see them, whether or not it's a fantastic year," Dukes said. "But I think this is one of those years where they will have pockets that are just fantastic, and other places they'll just want to keep driving."
Speaking of driving, Dukes said some people in our area drive down to the southern part of the state to see the colorful leaves there. But he said southern Indiana has had even more of a rain shortage than we have. So this year, you might be better suited to enjoy the foliage in your own back yard.
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