Why fall foliage in the Stateline is a bit behind schedule

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 6:01 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The middle of October is typically the time of the year when the Stateline puts the peak season for fall colors in the rearview mirror. But for 2021, that’s not the case. So no, you aren’t nuts if the leaves of your trees are still green.

However, that will change shortly. We spoke with experts at the Klehm Arboretum who say many varieties of trees are behind, more specifically the maples on its grounds.

Sam Burbach of the Klehm Arboretum says there are many reasons why that is. She says, “We’ve had a pretty mild to warm October so far and what we need to see for those brilliant fall colors is a lot of sunlight and we need to have cool nights. We don’t want it freezing yet.”

As the weather cools down, those lower temperatures stop the trees from producing chlorophyll. That chemical is the one that keeps leaves green. Now that we have cooler nights in the 40s and 30s, this will aid in finally getting the leaves to change colors. The biggest reason why it’s been so late, the drought 2021 has given the Stateline.

“The drought just plays into how the tree was growing throughout the season. Having a dry summer when the tree is doing most of its business creating food, storing the sugar, the drought stresses the trees out that time of the year,” Burbach says.

Additionally, the rain for October has helped make our fall colors also come out. We are running about two weeks behind compared to normal. The Klehm Arboretum is one of the more popular places locally to check out the fall colors. Even though its main fall event is done, you can still go check out the new blooming colors! Officials say sometimes, adjusting is key,

“Part of the event is a smartphone walk-through fall color tour. That is something that’s adjusted each year for what you’re going to see. Unfortunately, sometimes the changes with the weather and seasonality, just happen so quickly. We may put one sign by one tree and the leaves all of the leaves could drop the next,” Executive Director Alexander Mills says.

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