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As the weather turns colder, the leaves will soon be turning. We want to see a record of them before — and as — they fall.
We’ll share the photos in an online gallery, and some lucky photographers will win prizes.
As fall sets in, leaves begin their annual transformation from green to red, orange and yellow, inspiring pumpkin carving and thirst for hot apple cider.
Expect a good year for fall colors.
Many factors play into the longevity, color and intensity of fall leaves. Roger Boyd, director of natural areas and a professor emeritus of biology at Baker University, said two main conditions determine the brilliance of fall foliage.
“Most important is moisture, which has been good,” Boyd said. “The second factor is cool temperature, as that triggers two changes in the leaves.”
We’ve had both this year.
Jennifer Smith, a horticulture agent with K-State Extension-Douglas County, said sunny days and cool nights intensify color in leaves.
“If we have rainy, cool days in September and October, if they don’t get enough sunlight, they will fall more quickly,” Smith said.
Leaves usually start changing after Labor Day weekend, when the days become shorter, but predicting the peak time to view seasonal colors is difficult. Some trees turn sooner than others, and maples tend to change later in the season.
Most leaves will have turned brown or fallen by the end of October, Boyd said, so the best of the seasonal show usually has ended by then, but there are too many variables to predict peak viewing.
“My father always felt the third week in October was best for sugar maples in eastern Kansas,” Boyd said.
One way to identify a tree is by the colors of its leaves. Red maples, as well as some oak trees, take on crimson and purple hues.
“The oaks vary more at a distance and can be confused,” Boyd said. “They tend to be several shades on the same tree from green to purple to reddish, but not as solid as the others. (There’s) more variability from year to year.”
The autumn purple ash develops a deep purple tint, Smith said, while other ash trees like the white ash turn yellow. Certain species, like maples, display color better than others.
“Maples are probably the best,” Smith said. “Sugar maples have really brilliant hues of orange and yellow, a little red.”
There are many places to enjoy the seasonal colors. Any place up high with a wide view is good, Smith said.
“The best spots in southern Douglas County are Signal Oak and Big Hill,” Boyd said. “Both of these are two miles north of Baldwin.”
Big Hill is on County Road 1055, or East 1700 Road, and Signal Oak is a half-mile east on East 1750 Road.