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Summer Weather Could Mean Fall Colors Pop

Trees in natural settings fare better than backyard counterparts

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The summer's dry weather, combined with recent cool nights, could combine for a colorful fall foliage season.

"Right now, without knowing what's going to happen in the middle of October when the fall colors start to peak regionally, it looks like it's going to be a good year for fall colors," said Dr. Donald J. Leopold, a dendrologist and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Fall colors depend largely on weather conditions that occur closer to the peak foliage season, Leopold noted, but early indications are that 2012 could feature a bright fall.

A combination of factors affect fall color, including the amount of rainfall a region receives, the number of sunny days and nighttime temperatures, with cooler temperatures boosting colors. Recent lows in Central New York, where ESF is located, have dipped into the 50s.

Although homeowners might see the plants in their landscaping, particularly trees that were planted recently, suffer effects of the regional drought this summer, Leopold said plants in natural settings are less likely to be affected by dry weather.