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Leaves Already Changing Color Across Michigan: Is Cooler Weather To Blame?

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(credit: istock)

(credit: istock)

DETROIT (WWJ) - Nature’s palette is starting to take shape in parts of Michigan.

Leaves on some trees in metro Detroit are already turning yellow, a sign that fall “leaf peeping” season is near.

Mel Koelling, forestry professor at Michigan State University, said the cooler summer weather isn’t to blame for the early arrival of fall color. Instead, it’s things such as drought, fungus and even bug infestations that cause leaves to change hues.

“Anything that will tend to put stress on the tree will induce the formation of early color, particularly some of the yellows, and you might get a little bit of red, but not the brilliant reds that we will see in mid-October or so,” Koelling told WWJ’s Scott Ryan.

But don’t be fooled, Koelling said. The unseasonably cool summer weather does have somewhat of an impact on the leaves in the long run.

“We need lots of sunshine to make lots of sugar to be converted into some brilliant red pigments.  So, at this point– stepping out on a limb a little bit, literally — I would think color might be somewhat muted this fall based on our weather patterns for the summer,” he said.

The mild weather metro Detroit has experienced lately can be traced back to last winter’s Polar Vortex.

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