x
Breaking News
More () »

Early fall colors could mean trouble for trees

All those vibrant reds, yellows and oranges are clear signs of fall. But, that kind of color this early might also be a sign your tree is in trouble.

PORTLAND, Ore. — If you've noticed some trees turning colors or even dropping leaves earlier than normal, Jim Gersbach with Oregon's Department of Forestry said there's a reason for that

"That's really a sign of drought and not of an early fall," said Gersbach.

Normally, most leaves have those yellows and oranges in them, but in the summer time those colors are masked by green. It's that green pigment, also known as chlorophyll, that allows the leaf to photosynthesize and produce food for the tree.

But when the tree doesn't get enough water, that green can disappear quicker.

"When you have a drought, dry conditions, trees aren't able to get water to all of their leaves and that certainly happened this summer," said Gersbach.

So what's happening now? 

Some of the trees are basically just shutting down early.

RELATED: After record fire season, Oregon researchers say wildfires will only get worse

"We're seeing a lot of typical drought stress in the trees," said Jessica Henderson with Oregon Tree Care. 

According to Henderson, it wasn't just the heat that stressed the trees, it was initially the damaging ice storms.

And of course there was the drought.

"As the water sources throughout the year are reducing things are more brittle, pretty typical but we did start noticing it earlier in the year," she said.

Henderson said, for conifers, you can tell they're stressed by looking up.

The crowns of the trees might look brown.

RELATED: World's largest tree wrapped in fire-resistant blanket as California wildfires rage

She said most will likely come back, but if you want to ensure your conifers remain health and those leafy trees display their full fall color next year, you might want to give them some good soakings yourself during those hot summer months.

And then plan ahead. 

"Think of what you're planting next as our summers are getting longer and hotter," said Henderson. "So that we can plan for that in the future." 

Paid Advertisement