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Flooding, Forests, and Fall Foliage

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation


It may feel like we’ve jumped from summer straight into winter, but fall is here and the trees are trying to put on a show. 


On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with tree experts Jeff Iles and Mark Vitosh about fall color and how flooding impacts trees and forests.  Later on, horticulturist Richard Jauron joins to answer listener questions.


Weather patterns leading into fall can have a significant impact on fall foliage. Warm, sunny days and cooler nights are the ideal conditions for achieving vibrant color.


"We're getting the cool nights but we're not getting those clear days," Vitosh says.


Vitosh and Iles have seen vivid colors appearing on a few tree species so far this year but say that we have not yet reached the peak of fall color. If cold weather continues, there's a risk that trees may lose their leaves before the golds, oranges, and reds have a chance to appear.


"Strong winds could end the show prematurely," Iles says.



With flooding continuing across Eastern Iowa, some trees also have over-saturated soil to worry about. Whether this will impact tree health in future years remains to be seen, but Iles recommends that anyone who might be planting trees in flood-prone areas use species that are better able to tolerate wet conditions.

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