(WETM) – As meteorological Fall has come and gone and the Autumnal Equinox less than two weeks away, a great concern for foliage onlookers is how the dry weather can affect the foliage that the area is famous for.
Parts of the Twin Tiers have been categorized as “abnormally dry” for weeks now and parts of Schuyler and Steuben Counties have been one step higher at “moderate drought.” This dry weather can have a severe adverse effect on the foliage that the Twin Tiers is so famous for.
The latest Drought Monitor for New York still has some areas in a moderate drought stage. The next map will be released on Thursday, September 10th. However, the weather recently has not been exactly cooperative to get us in the clear.
According to the US Forest Service, the weather has a significant impact on foliage health. “A late spring, or a severe summer drought, can delay the onset of fall color by a few weeks. A warm period during fall will also lower the intensity of autumn colors.” Though the drought parts of the area are currently in is not severe, impacts on the foliage is still a concern.
The impacts of dry weather on foliage can be as light as “less vibrant colors” and on the other end of the spectrum can cause leaves to fall off trees before changing colors. The latter would be quite sad for the hills in the Twin Tiers.
Leaves “changing color” is technically not the correct way to describe it. Leaves are green during the growing season due to chlorophyll being dominant in the leaf. That chlorophyll is green, hence the green color of trees. Chlorophyll is an important component of photosynthesis, which is the taking in of sunlight and interaction between carbon dioxide and water to create sugars and oxygen for the tree. According to Dr. Robert Koble, associate professor of biology at Corning Community College, leaves contain many different colored pigments at all times. As the season changes and the amount of daylight decreases, the leaves start to slow down their photosynthesis processes. The chlorophyll then starts to go away, taking the green pigment with it, allowing for other colors to show through.