fall foliage 9-26-18

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources issued its first report on fall foliage in the state. So far, the colors are green.

Pennsylvania’s forests are still, for the most part, fairly green.

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources posted its first weekly foliage report on Thursday.

It notes that “the deep-green of Pennsylvania’s foliage is largely unchanged throughout the state” as the fall foliage season begins.

“However, foresters have noted some localized areas of early leaf drop on maple, cherry, and oak species due to the excessively wet summer and related outbreaks of fungi,” it says. “Despite these setbacks, commonwealth forests are still well-stocked with leaves of over 100 tree, shrub, and vine species.”

Cooler, more seasonal temperatures should deliver “some great fall color,” the report says.

Most woody regions can expect peak color in three to four weeks, with colorful displays likely to appear first across the northern counties, according to the website.

Additional reports will be posted through the end of the season — most likely for six weeks — at dcnr.pa.gov, Ryan Reed, environmental education specialist for the state Bureau of Forestry, said earlier this month.

Reed said the heavy rains this year have spurred tree growth in many areas, but also have caused outbreaks of fungal diseases in some woodlands.

Anthracnose, for instance, is a “fairly widespread” fungus that targets maple trees, Reed said. It can cause dead spots on leaves and premature defoliation.

But, because of the diversity of Pennsylvania’s tree population, the state “is a slam-dunk for fall foliage,” he said.

Colors could be late, muted

Not everyone agrees with the forest bureau’s assessment.

Marc Abrams, a professor of forest ecology and physiology from the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, said in a statement Thursday that the warm, wet weather leading up to the fall will subdue the colorful display this year.

“This is the opposite of what is needed to bring out the best and timely colors, which require cool and dry conditions with the onset of fall,” he said.

“I predict there will be a late — and muted — leaf coloration this October,” he added.

Abrams said he’s not expecting a “total washout” this year because “even during the worst of times trees produce good to fair color.” However, he said, “it may take a bit more hunting to find the best color this year.”