Most of Maryland’s tree canopies are still vibrant green, but there are pops of color to be found, even in southern Maryland, one of the last regions to reveal fall color change.
The western portion of our state remains very dry with drought conditions ranging from abnormally dry to moderate, but a system off the coastline promises to bring gusty winds and downpours over the weekend.
Will this much-needed rain benefit fall leaf change? According to Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forester Aaron Cook, this system “could help offset drought conditions but will likely not reverse the course on drought stress impacts to fall color from an entire growing season of drought conditions.”
Severe drought during the growing season tends to cause trees to turn color early and the colors to not last as long. Sometimes it can lead them to skip color all together, browning and falling before fall gets started, according to Climate Central.
It’s too early to tell if this will be the case across Maryland this fall, but it is something to keep in mind as we explore changes in forest canopies.
Aaron Cook, Forester, Indian Springs Wildlife Management Area, reports swift but fleeting changes in the western portion of our state:
“The cold front last weekend across Frederick and Washington counties brought breezy conditions and much needed soaking rain. The result was that a lot of color in the canopy fell to the ground, ’regreening’ the treetops and joining those tree species that aren’t showing signs of drought and early fall color. The color has been pretty decent thus far but short-lived. It’s a strange start to fall foliage season.”
Drought conditions continue to prevail, translating to marked differences in fall color this year, according to Melissa Nash, a Forester in Garrett and Allegany counties.
“Hints of color are starting to appear in Garrett County. As expected with the overall dry summer, we are seeing more muted colors,” Nash said.
Known as the midpoint for experiencing fall’s transition across Maryland, central Maryland is still mostly green, with the landscape holding on to summer as the first official day of fall approaches.
Shin Ae Gonzalez, Seasonal Park Ranger, is seeing the effects of cooler, but not cold, temperatures in Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area and Bohemia River State Park.
“Nighttime temps are still around 60 degrees, so we are getting only the tiniest touches of red. Hopefully in the next couple weeks we will have more variety of color,” Gonzalez said.
Chase Kolstron, Project Forester in Charles County, reports:
“Still mostly green in southern Maryland. Some species are starting to show a couple of signs of fall as well as dropping some leaves here and there, but I expect it to be a couple of weeks before we start to see significant color changes. The lack of rainfall over the past few months may speed up this process, especially in oaks.“