Early peak for fall colors

Leaf lookers hoping to see a symphony of fall color at its most vibrant may want to get a head start. Victor Shelburne, a Clemson teacher specializing in forest ecology, sees signs that peak autumn color may arrive a bit early this year to the Carolinas. “There are good sourwood, blackgum and dogwood reds appearing in the Piedmont. The Jocassee Gorges area in North and South Carolina is about one week ahead of Clemson with strong reds developing on sourwood and dogwoods.” This means color would be most brilliant around mid-October in the higher elevations, late October in the lower elevations and early November in the Piedmont. The timing and quality of color is based on a complex interaction of environmental factors, such as rainfall, temperature and duration of daylight, which trigger a series of chemical processes in the leaves. “Look for an approaching cold front. When a cold front moves through, it will wash away the haze and make for bright sunlight and ideal viewing.”