Tree Expert: Autumn Color Forecast Looks Promising for Leaf Watchers

All signs are pointing to a vibrant season of autumn color this year, thanks to plenty of summer and early fall rain, says a Virginia Tech tree physiology expert.

“We have plenty of moisture in the soil and the trees should be in great shape for a colorful display in the beautiful state of Virginia,” says John Seiler, a forestry professor who specializes in environmental stress effects on woody plant physiology.

Seiler looks at weather patterns and the moisture in soil to predict peak autumn color. He says that rain levels can also impact the variety of color, but clear days in October are vital for a vivid display.

“Rainy weather patterns are keeping trees in Virginia healthy, which should prolong the fall color season and make leaf color more vivid,” says Seiler. “We do, however, need some clear and sunny days in October for the red leaf colors to develop well.”

So, when should leaf watchers plan to enjoy the foliage?

Seiler predicts trees in Virginia may not reach their peak foliage until the fourth week of October.

“The weekends of October 22 and 29 are likely the best bet. It looks like trick-or-treaters of the New River Valley will be set for a vivid display.”

Professor Seiler specializes in environmental stress effects on woody plant physiology, including water and pollutant stresses. He is quoted regularly in broadcast and print publications due to his expertise in tree physiology. Seiler is the Honorable and Mrs. Shelton H. Short Professor of Forestry at Virginia Tech, and was named an Alumni Distinguished Professor in recognition of his extraordinary academic citizenship and distinguished service within the Virginia Tech community. Seiler teaches in the College of Natural Resources and Environment.

By Riley Petersen

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