Expert anticipates great year for fall color in Minnesota

Fall colors
In this Sept. 4 photo, the leaves of a large maple tree in St. Paul are changing to their fall colors.
Andy Rathbun | Pioneer Press via AP

Minnesota is on track for a great year for fall color due to plentiful rainfall in recent weeks, according to a foliage expert with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Most of the state is neither abnormally dry or in drought, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. As of Sept. 1, there was no drought in Minnesota and the only area considered abnormally dry was a pocket along the North Shore near Lake Superior, the U.S. Drought Monitor determined.

Although the dry conditions on the North Shore could have a negative effect on leaves, significant rain over the next few weeks could turn that possibility around.

"They could get a lot of moisture and that could increase the color by the end of the season," said Val Cervenka, forest health program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

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In addition to rain, temperature also can play a role in the intensity of fall color.

"Warm sunny days, followed by cool, but not freezing, nights are what will give us the best color," Cervenka said. "And this is still pretty darn early for that. We're still going to get the warm sunny days, but we're nowhere near the really cool nights we need."

But weather over the next few weeks has the potential to negatively affect fall color, so it's still too soon to tell what it will be.

"It can change, if say, all of a sudden we didn't get rain for a month," Cervenka said. "It's kind of localized, too."

Peak fall color usually begins along the Canadian border in mid- to late-September and ends in southern Minnesota in early to mid-October, according to the agency. The Twin Cities usually sees peak color in late September to mid-October.

Some leaves across Minnesota already are changing color, but that's happening prematurely due to dryness or other stressors. Leaves normally change color when a tree determines it's time to shut down for winter.