New York State experiencing fall foliage delays despite some areas reaching near-peak levels


(WETM) – Scenic areas in New York State including the Adirondacks are now experiencing near-peak fall foliage levels, but that is not the case for other parts of the state. Fall foliage 2021 is happening later than usual across New York, and experts blame it on the rain.

The unrelenting rain over the summer has pulled leaves down earlier than what would happen normally. With less leaves, the trees have to work harder to do photosynthesis, and therefore the leaves have to stay green longer.

Cornell University Senior Lecturer Mark Wysocki explains why rain is a major issue in preventing fall foliage from reaching peak levels.

“The more sunlight they have the more sugar they can produce and the brighter the colors will be,” Wysocki said. “The problem is, as you reduce that sunlight, both the intensity and duration, which is happening in the fall year…what tends to happen is the chemistry slows down, and then the sugars get trapped in the leaves. So they get trapped in there and that’s how you end up with these colors.”

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) adds that invasive species are another factor in causing fall foliage delays.

“Due to leaf disease, there are fewer leaves in the trees to get colorful and the defoliation we had from the LDD (aka gypsy moth) caused a lot of ‘new’ leaves in large areas and they may not turn bright colors before this fall,” DEC said.

Other trends like the southern hurricane season may increase the chances for fall foliage delays in the future.

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