Portland, Ore. (KOIN) – It’s the first day of fall, but is it time to go out and start checking out the changing leaves? Not quite, but it might be time to start making some plans for a few weeks from now to get that peak fall foliage.
For now, you might start seeing minimal or patchy areas that the leaves are starting to change just slightly. Typically around Oregon, mid-October is a safe bet for the best fall foliage views, with the ongoing transformation into late October and at times November.
Here are some fall photos from the past coming out of Oregon that can get you in the mood for the upcoming change:
Before you head out for your leafy experience, you might be interested in the science of these changing colors.
The process all has to do with the production of chlorophyll, the green pigment (which does a lot more for the leaf than just the color). The main culprit to impacting the chlorophyll in the leaves is the day length. That means, as we approach the early days of fall, the sunrise and the sunset times change and the sunlight absorbed isn’t as frequent compared to long summer days. This change will impact the production of chlorophyll and ultimately it will degrade allowing for that green pigment to breakdown. Other elements to the leaves will start to show, bringing out the rustic palette of fall.
Now the weather does influence the changing in colors, from rain to clouds, but the consistent element that is the main factor for the change in leaves is the day length.
You can think of an orange leaf as rich in beta-carotene, a yellow leaf showing off what is called xanthophyll, and a red leaf trumpeting that red hue of anthocyanin.