Leaves Taking Longer To Change Color

6 years 7 months 3 weeks ago November 03, 2010 Nov 3, 2010 Wednesday, November 03 2010 Wednesday, November 03, 2010 6:45:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - There are two reasons leaves in Mid-Missouri aren't as colorful as usual.  One is the warm weather the state is experiencing.  The other is a bug infestation.

In order for leaves to change colors, University of Missouri forestry professor Steve Palladry said cool days about 60 degrees, and cooler nights, around 40 degrees help the colors come out.  The colors are trapped inside the leaves.  The colors also struggle to come out when there is a drought.  Palladry said the lack of rain in the past six weeks is holding back the colors.

Missouri White Oaks were hit hard this year by jumping oak galls.  Forest entomologist Rob Lawrence says a tiny wasp causes the jumping oak gall, but he doesn't know why the infestation is so bad this year. But Lawrence said the winter weather played a big role. 

"We had a colder winter that was consistently cold.  We didn't have any really warm ups in January and the middle of winter, so it was consistently cold.  We had some snow cover that lasted for a while, and these insects spend the winter on the ground.  They were insulated down there and they just stayed and didn't come out of hibernation."

The jumping oak galls caused leaves on Missouri White Oak trees to turn brown and heavy from the galls.  Lawrence said the trees should be fine in the spring.

Leaves will continue to change color and fall as the weather changes.

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