(WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) – Although the official start of fall is still over a week away, Central New York has already seen some fall foliage in higher elevations like the Catskills and Adirondacks. What exactly causes leaves to change color though? Well, there are three main factors that influence leaf color: leaf pigments, how long our nights are, and the weather.
As our nights grow longer and cooler, it triggers biochemical processes within the leaf which change its color. The most notable is with a pigment called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what gives leaves their green color. When we transition to fall, leaves stop producing chlorophyll and the already existing colors underneath are unmasked. Some of these colors such as yellow, orange, and brown come from a chemical pigment called carotenoid. The red and purple colors are produced from a chemical pigment called anthocyanin.
The peak of fall foliage here in Central New York is between the end of September and mid October. For updates on fall foliage in your area in New York, you can check out the fall foliage report as well as the fall foliage prediction map..