Promising autumn ahead for Southern New England

Local News

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — We are rounding out summer across Southern New England this weekend. The fall equinox officially arrives Monday morning.

If images of sweaters, fall foliage, and pumpkins are more your speed, the fall outlook looks promising.

Eyewitness News spoke with a forest health program coordinator with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management regarding the region’s foliage.

“Generally by mid-October, we are getting into good color,” said Paul Ricard.

He told us, “so far things are looking good, for a nice vibrant colored fall.”

It all comes down to our weather in Southern New England, it aids the three elements needed to create those vibrant colors.

“One of those is adequate soil moisture during the trees growing season,” he said.

“This past spring we had more than enough moisture. Heading into the fall we need ample sunshine… Cool evening and warms days.”


Why do leaves change color?

According to NOAA, it all starts inside the leaf. In the summer, the leaves are green because it is making lots of chlorophyll, which helps plants make energy from sunlight. There are four main pigments in each leaf:

Chlorophyll (greens)  

Xanthophylls (yellows)  

Carotenoids (oranges)  

Anthocyanins (reds)  

As the days begin to get shorter, the leaves begin to change because the leaves are producing less chlorophyll to prepare for winter. Once this happens, NOAA says the green colors begin to fade and the reds, oranges, and yellows become more visible.

NOAA says changes in local weather conditions can play a role in when leaves will change in your area. A drought or early frost can cause leaves to fall without having the chance to change colors.

These same weather conditions are also providing farmers with a successful fall crop.

Gil Barden of Barden Family Orchard in Scituate says they are expecting a great apple yield.

You can now pick your own apples at Barden Family Orchard in Scituate.

“We really got the weather early in the summer to grow the fruit,” said Barden.

Eyewitness News was at his family’s farm on Saturday, though it was summer-like, it didn’t stop people from picking apples.

“Now we are getting the crisp cool nights, that will put a nice red color on them and they are sizing up beautifully.”

Barden says his pumpkins grew in nicely as well this year, Chris Clegg of 4TownsFarm in Seekonk agrees.

“You know we had a beautiful July, it was hot! August was dry, which is when pumpkins have set fruit and they are sizing up,” said Clegg.

Clegg is a third-generation farmer and he said this year had all the right weather conditions.

“Now, here we are in September and it’s a beautiful crop.”

Ready to decorate your home? You can get your pumpkins at 4TownFarm in Seekonk.

As we continue into the months of fall, the foliage is very weather dependant. How so? If we get hit by a strong rain/wind storm that will knock many of the leaves off, ending the season early.

What could end the foliage season early is a hard frost, that would kill the leaves.

But, a light frost we are told would help make those apples turn a bright red!

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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