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2Cooleys Guide To Ozark Fall Foliage

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Ozark Fall Foliage Information
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Ozark Foliage Color - What Makes It Happen?
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Ozark Fall Foliage Trip Planning
for the North Central Arkansas & South Central Missouri Corridor
Norfork Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, White River, Glade Top Trail, and Ozark National Forest areas

Details To Guidelines
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Rule 1 Details - Every Ozark Fall Has Color
If leaves are green, there WILL be color. For there to be no color all trees would need to be DEAD! Quantity and quality of fall color is entirely dependent upon fall weather conditions - temperature, sunlight, and fall rains. Summer drought has very little to do with it. Chlorophyll is what colors leaves green. As chlorophyll drains out of leaves in the fall, other chemicals remaining in the leaves are what we see as fall color.

A leaf is a highly complex and wonderful creation. Using a long list of chemical processes, it takes minerals from the earth brought to it by the tree's root and sap system, then "mixes" those minerals with sunlight to produce "food" which the tree uses to stay alive and grow. This process comes to a halt during what we know as fall foliage.

Shorter daylight hours trigger chemical reactions in every leaf on a tree. Less sunshine each day means at some point chlorophyll can no longer convert enough sunlight and minerals into energy for a tree to continue growing. Plant chemistry senses this change, which in turn triggers other chemical events in the tree. Sap, which is to a tree what blood is to a human, begins to drain out of the trunk and branches where it is stored in the tree's roots for the winter.The tree begins to go dormant.

Chlorophyll continues to drain out with the sap. As it does highly specialized "gate keeper" cells at the base of the leaf stem start to close off sap flow to the leaf. As chlorophyll drains out, and no new sap comes into the leaf, many other chemicals are left behind in the leaf itself, drying into the colors we see. Eventually all the chemicals either evaporate or drain out of the leaf at the end of the peak color period, then the leaf falls to the ground all brown and dry.

The rate at which this complex chemical process occurs is entirely dependent upon fall weather conditions. Like baking a cake, the right ingredients in the right amounts must mix together in the right amount of heat. Too little or too much of any one ingredient, too little or too much heat, and the cake  is not so good.

It would take an entire book to explain all the chemical processes involved. To keep things simple all one needs to know is that sunshine levels and temperature control what chemicals drain out of leaves and which ones remain, and how fast the whole thing happens. This is why it is impossible to predict what fall color qualitity and quanity will be more than a few days in advance. While we know what TIME of year color will happen, we cannot say what the color quality will be.

Details To Guidelines
#1 | # 2 | # 3 | # 4 | # 5


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