Archive for Thursday, October 14, 2004

Lacking color?

Leaves might not peak in time for Maple Leaf Festival

October 14, 2004

The Maple Leaf Festival might not be as pretty this year as in past years.

"I don't think we're going to have a lot of red," said Roger Boyd, Baker University biology professor.

Which he said will probably be disappointing to some people. The Maple Leaf Festival is always the third full weekend in October, a time that is supposed to be prime for the fall foliage, especially red Maple leaves.

But this year doesn't look too promising, according to Boyd.

He said the color in leaves relies on two pigments, carotene and anthocyanin. The carotene is responsible for the yellows and oranges in the leaves, the anthocyanin the reds.

Boyd said when the days start getting shorter, chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green color, begins breaking down, leaving carotene in the leaves giving them their yellow and orange colors.

In order to get the red color, he said, the temperatures have to be colder, which Baldwin just hasn't had yet.

"You have to get close to 30 degrees or have a freeze," he said.

According to 4,400 trees in the city right-of-way surveyed by one of Boyd's classes, 16 percent of those are made up of Hard Maples.

"Hard Maples make up the largest percentage in the right of way," he said.

In other words, if his predictions hold true, Baldwin will still have a lot of green this weekend.

Boyd expects the Maple leaves to still turn red, as long as they don't turn brown and fall off or are blown off by a strong wind first.

He said the cold weather needed could hit Baldwin as early as the beginning of next week.

"Probably by Thursday or Friday of next week, it could get real spectacular," he said.

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