- Drought conditions during late summer and early fall can trigger an early “shutdown” of trees as they prepare for winter. This causes leaves to fall early from trees without reaching their full color potential.
- Freezing temperatures and hard frosts can kill the processes within a leaf and lead to poor fall color and an early separation from a tree.
Trees actually begin to show their true colors in autumn, and here’s why.
The four primary pigments that produce color within a leaf are: chlorophyll (green); xanthophylls (yellow); carotenoids (orange); and anthocyanins (reds and purples). During the warmer growing seasons, leaves produce chlorophyll to help plants create energy from light. The green pigment becomes dominant and masks the other pigments.