When to expect the peak of fall foliage in the Ozarks

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 4:26 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Even though it hasn’t felt like it, the first official day of fall arrives September 22, meaning shorter days and beautiful hues of yellow, orange, and red leaves are on the way.

Some trees, like maple and black walnut, have already started their transition.

“Typically we see peak fall color anywhere from mid October onward, around that time frame. What causes that fall color to occur as we get shorter days and milder temperatures, that signals to trees winter is on its way. That’s when they stop producing chlorophyll, and underneath the green chlorophyll leaves is the fall color we see every year around this time,” Kelly McGowan, a horticulture specialist with the University of Missouri, explained.

Since the first day of meteorological fall, September 1, it’s been unseasonably hot and dry, which could impact the foliage peak.

“Whenever we get into fall and we still have very hot temperatures like we’re having today, that can delay some fall color because it’s the mild temperatures that help trigger the tree to stop producing chlorophyll and expose those fall colors,” McGowan said.

The bottom line is healthy trees create the best fall colors. That means too little, or too much rain can dull or delay the foliage. In addition, enough sunshine is needed for the leaves to show their hidden colors.

The Smoky Mountains website tracks the foliage as it travels from north to south. This takes elevation and weather trends into account to predict the peak for individual areas. Their latest forecast has the peak of fall foliage in the Ozarks between October 24-31. Click here to find the interactive map.

When and where to see the best fall colors
When and where to see the best fall colors(ky3)

The Missouri Department of Conservation has a full list of the best spots to see this season’s leaf change. You can find that by clicking here.

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