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Drought, heat to blame for lack of vibrant foliage this fall

Persistent heat and drought are limiting the trees from showing off their vibrance. With fall well underway, are the colors on their way?

DES MOINES, Iowa — Where are those beautiful fall colors? Unfortunately, the continuous warm temperatures and drought have limited the trees from their exuberance so far this fall.

Jeff Iles, chair of Iowa State University's horticulture department says this isn't too surprising given the climate of the past couple of months.

"Unfortunately, because of heat and drought, leaves look a little rough and a lot of trees have lost leaves prematurely. Whenever you lose leaf volume, you're going to have a muted full-color display," Iles told Local 5.

Hopefully, this is just a delay in the colors popping out this fall. However, if we get a quick cold snap later this month after a period of above-average temperatures, that can severely limit the trees' potential.

"If we go from 60 to 10 degrees, that's damaging to the forests. Trees just aren't able to handle those temperature swings," Iles added.

Tivon Feeley with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says there's plenty of other places to visit in Iowa to see the trees in fall form.

"The place to go was northeast Iowa when you get up by Elkader and North you're going to be at the peak right now," Feeley said.

Feeley mentioned this is the longest season he's seen in his 20 years covering Iowa's forests, and there's still plenty of time for the trees to pop.

"If you can get out in two weeks and take a closer look, it'll be well worth it," Feeley said.

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