MONTICELLO — If you’re thinking fall color is lacking compared to late October of most years, you are correct.

The fall color is definitely behind. Generally I think of wet falls having good color, but this year I get the feeling that everything is going to be muted. Hopefully I am wrong!” said Nate Beccue, the Natural Areas Manager at Allerton Park & Retreat Center.

Leaves are just beginning to turn at the Piatt County park, but should be at their most colorful; in about a week, he added.

At Allerton the best color right now are the sumac, sassafras and hickory. The south side of Schroth trail around the prairie is the best bet right now for fall color,” Beccue said.

University of Illinois emeritus professor of forestry Jeff Dawson also told the News-Gazette’s Tom Kacich in his weekly “Tom’s Mailbag” that warm and wet conditions in October have made for less color.

Overcast skies reduce the red coloration because light is required for the production of the red pigment in senescent leaves. An extended warm period in the fall also can cause dull colors because it favors maintenance respiration over that involved in maintenance of the yellow and orange pigments that function to protect the carbohydrate and protein breakdown and resorption back in to the tree,” said Dawson. “The ideal conditions for bright fall colors are sunny days and cool nights which decrease overall maintenance respiration in leaves.

Also, warmer temperatures in themselves will delay senescence processes so that a hard frost can kill the leaves before the color development has peaked.”

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