Fall colors arrived in the Upper Cumberland late this season.
UT Extension Professor Wayne Clatterbuck said three elements affect the vibrancy of the leaves’ colors, including day length, temperature, and moisture.
“This year was a little later than usual because it was just too warm. We didn’t have that fluctuation in temperatures that much,” Clatterbuck said. “Usually, if we get too much on one side than the other, not enough moisture or not enough daytime fluctuations, then that vibrancy is less.”
Clatterbuck said for vibrant leaves, the temperatures should reach the low 40s at night and low 70s during the day.
“The colors are always in the leaves, they are just masked by the chlorophyll production,” Clatterbuck said. “Once the chlorophyll production subsides, then those leaf colors come out [with] their creatines and xanthophylls. Those are the technical colors of the substances within the leaves that turn them yellow, orange, red, purple.”
Clatterbuck said once the weather hits freezing, the leaves will start to turn brown.