COLLEGE STATION, Texas — This year’s fall foliage across the Lone Star State will be less vibrant than usual due to continued drought conditions, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service (TAMFS).
According to a press release from TAMFS, trees across the state continue to show stress despite some late summer rainfall.
Much of the Lone Star State remains abnormally dry or in some stage of drought. This fall is expected to be warmer and drier than average.
“Many trees put on fewer, smaller leaves this spring or started to change color or prematurely drop their leaves in the summer,” said Karl Flocke, Texas A&M Forest Service Woodland Ecologist in the press release. “All of this will most likely lead to fall colors that are less impressive than in years past.”
Deciduous trees drop their leaves in the fall to conserve energy. Normally, fall colors start showing when the green chlorophyll in the leaves begins breaking down.
“Due to the drought, some trees have already defoliated,” said Courtney Blevins, Texas A&M Forest Service Urban Forester in the press release. “Others still have their leaves, but they are dead and brown. These trees obviously will not be giving us any fall colors to enjoy this year.”
During prolonged periods of drought, trees can generate yellow and brown pigments to protect their photosynthetic organs from damage caused by excess sunlight, TAMFS said.
“This is one of the reasons why people may have noticed dull yellows and browns across Texas for months now,” Flocke went on to say.
The best opportunity to see fall foliage at its peak in Texas will be during the middle and later part of November, according to a fall foliage predication map at SmokyMountains.com.
Even when drought conditions relent, trees could continue to struggle with the effects of the prolonged dry period for years.
In the meantime, landowners should keep a close watch on their trees and take measures to maintain tree health throughout the year, TAMFS said.