Fall in Amish country is always beautiful, but some years the colors are more intense and dramatic than others. Why, I wondered. You probably remember the whole photosynthesis/chlorophyll cycle from your eighth grade science class. Basically the trees are getting ready for winter, and the green is fading so the leaves are showing their true colors. Okay, that’s about as far as I am going to go, not being a teacher myself.
Typically, fall color arrives in northern Ohio in late September, with color quickly progressing through the southern part of the state by late October.
However, the vividness of the colors and how long leaves remain on the trees depends on weather and can vary from year to year. The month of September, unpredictable at best, is key to October colors. What we want are cool nights and sunny days. The varying temperatures bring on a chemical change in leaves, producing the deep russets and purples that light up Ohio’s woodlands in fall.
Rainy weather means trees keeps their leaves longer to prolong the season. Of course, severe windstorms can bring leaves down abruptly and cut the fall color season short. We all remember a fall or two where the leaves were beautiful in early October, and a harsh wind and rain storm knocked them all down. Conversely, periods of quiet weather can lengthen the season well into November.
To help you plan your drive into Amish country this fall, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will begin issuing weekly Fall Color updates on October 4. The weekly Fall Color forecast will be available on the Internet at ohiodnr.com and by calling the state’s travel and tourism hotline at 1-800-BUCKEYE. It offers current reports on peak viewing opportunities in our area and is quite, pun intended, cool.