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Weather Academy: Fall Foliage in the ArkLaMiss

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 8:32 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2021 at 9:09 AM CST
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Today on the Weather Academy we head to Kiroli Park to do a little bit of leaf-peeping. All month long, we’ve been talking about why the leaves change color but today, we’re gonna be focusing on northeast Louisiana and when is the best time to view these leaves here in our region.

Usually, we start to see the best color changing in the middle of November here in Kiroli. There’s quite a bit of pine, but they do have a species mixed on in and we are definitely starting to see some of those changes. And no one knows the trees in Kiroli Park better than West Monroe Parks and Recreation Director Stuart Hodnett.

“We’ve got a lot of pine trees where we also have a lot of oak trees, a lot of species of oak trees,” Hodnet says. “Nuttall, like to change leaves, loved to see a lot of the beech trees we see here. A lot of those will change leaves in the fall this time of year so a lot of good oak trees here.”

Oak trees also changed color later on in autumn than other types of trees. But there are some significant factors that can play a role in when we start to see fall foliage here on the ArkLaMiss.

A dry summer causes stress on the tree and can lead to dull colors and a delay and when we start to see the leaves changing color. A wet summer can lead to healthy trees throughout the fall that change right on time and show off vibrant colors.

So what did the trees look like in Kiroli this year?

“Last year seemed to be they would change a little quicker, meaning they would turn and fall off the trees. This year. It’s been a slow process,” Hodnett told us. “I think the sunny days that we have and the cooler nights may help with that. But we saw the color stay a little bit longer than we did last year.”

Stuart Hodnett is exactly right. Warm days and warm nights lead to muted colors in the trees, whereas warm days but cool nights allow for more vibrant colors to form. This is because warm days caused the leads to increase sugar production. Then during cold nights the veins close up and prevent the release of that sugar, which allows for a buildup and turns the leaves brighter colors. We’ve been lucky to have warm days and cool nights here in November that have allowed for us to see bright colors across the ArkLaMiss.

But what happens once all those leaves and curly start to fall? Well, it takes a whole team of staff and volunteers to help rake up the leaves in Kiroli Park each fall. If you are interested in volunteering at Kiroli Park, check out Ouachita Green for volunteering opportunities and clean-up dates. You can also volunteer with the City of West Monroe. For more information about Kiroli Park, check out their website here.

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