State Forester Jeff Goerndt says dry weather has also had an impact on the changing of leaf colors. “I think the dryness has affected us a great deal — the warm weather sets it back,” Goerndt says. He says the cool fall days are important to the process.
“Usually the colors are best when you have just warm, balmy days and then cool, crisp, clear nights,” according to Goerndt. Goerndt says it is early for central and southern Iowa and the colors should improve as we move deeper into fall. “In the next couple of weeks it’s going to start getting a little better,” Goerndt says. “I just can’t tell right now how brilliant it is going to be. I’ve got a couple of hard maples in my yard that are usually quite brilliant — but they haven’t done anything yet. I think you’re going to see a lot more oranges and browns and yellows this year.”
He lives in Chariton in the south-central part of the state and says northeast Iowa has a larger variety of trees and usually has some of the best leaf color in the state. And northeast Iowa has had more rain this year too, which should help the color. He says the Loess Hills corridor had some good leaf color.
Goerndt says the drought conditions in the southern part of the state could have a longer term impact on trees beyond impacting leaf color.
“They’ll be a little deficient. The thing about drought is you can’t really predict what it’s going to do as far as long term affects, because it can affect a tree for several years afterwards,” Goerndt says. The DNR provides a weekly fall color report each Monday afternoon.
Updates are available by calling the DNR fall color hotline at 515-233-4110 and online at www.iowadnr.gov/fallcolor.