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Fall color show is starting in Wisconsin

Contact(s): Colleen Matula, forest silviculturist/ecologist, Ashland, colleen.matula@wisconsin.gov, 715-685-2911
September 10, 2019



Fall colors are just starting to change, like these early turning maples in the Brule River State Forest. - Photo credit: DNR
Fall colors are just starting to change, like these early turning maples in the Brule River State Forest.Photo credit: DNR

MADISON, Wis. - As temperatures drop and the days get shorter, hints of fall color are becoming visible in the Northwoods.

"The intensity of the fall color season is dependent on the weather that Wisconsin receives during September and October," said Colleen Matula, Forest Silviculturist/Ecologist with the DNR-Division of Forestry. "To have the most brilliant and vibrant fall color display, a series of fall days filled with bright sunshine and cool, but frost-free, evenings are required."

Peak fall color usually occurs in far northern Wisconsin during the last week of September and first week of October. Central Wisconsin peak color generally occurs during mid-October and in southern Wisconsin during the latter half of October.

Leaf pigments determine the range of the color palette. Chlorophyll, which begins to fade in the fall, gives leaves the primary green color and is necessary for photosynthesis. Carotenoids, which produce yellow, orange and brown colors, are always present, so trees like aspen and birch have more predictable colors each year. Anthocyanin, which produces red and purple tints, varies with the conditions and makes each autumn unique for other species. For more information, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "fall colors." 

"Forests support Wisconsin's economy through spending by forest recreation enthusiasts as well as jobs and forest products," Matula noted. "While the fall color show draws many visitors to our state, the 17.1 million forested acres in Wisconsin are also a year-round economic contributor, with forest products adding $24.1 billion annually to state's economy."

As the showy fall colors move through the state from north to south, Wisconsin's state forests and parks offer a front-row seat for the fall color show, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources forestry experts say search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "explore outdoors" to find nearby public lands.

For current information on Wisconsin's current color status, contact the Department of Tourism's Fall Color Hotline at 1-800-432-TRIP or online at the Fall Color Report (exit DNR) on the Travel Wisconsin website.

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Contact information

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