Autumn is here & the leaves are starting to change color right on cue

IOWA FALLS — This is the first full day of fall and Iowans are already starting to see the leaves on a few trees turning red, yellow and orange.

Joe Herring, a forester with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says Iowa’s trees are facing a long list of challenges this season, including the emerald ash borer, storms, and drought, in addition to just their sheer age.

“Two out of every three trees are big trees, and that means only about one out of every three is a young replacement that’s gotten a start to provide for the next generation, the shade and all the other benefits,” Herring says. “Those old trees are great. We want to keep them around as long as we can, as long as they’re upright and strong and sturdy, but they are more susceptible to things like drought or storms.”

Herring, who’s based in Iowa Falls, says Iowans can likely expect a decent showing of fall colors in the coming weeks.

“We didn’t have a ton of rainfall which promotes a lot of fungal diseases on the leaves every spring and that can affect the fall colors later on,” Herring says. “But with the drought conditions, we may have some early change. I don’t think that’s the worst thing for fall color and maybe it extends the season a little bit and we just hope we don’t get too early of a frost that was blacken and brown up the leaves.”

The DNR says fall colors typically start to appear across Iowa’s northern third next week through the second week of October, with the state’s central section seeing the best color the first through the third weeks of October, and southern Iowa the second week of October through Halloween.