Fall didn’t come early; lack of moisture changing leaves

By Geoff Smith
August 15, 2016 - 5:00pm

Mid-August may seem too early for the emergence of fall colours in trees around the Battlefords.

But what people are noticing isn’t trees preparing for winter, but more likely a phenomenon known as fall flagging. Keith Anderson, former North Battleford director of parks and now the executive director of the Prairie Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, said dry conditions last fall and this past spring are responsible.

“It’s the result of drought,” he said. “It could even be the result, in some cases of, we had that late-season frost in May, so it could be the result of some of that. But as trees get drought-stressed, insects and other things seem to pick up on that, including aphids; their populations grow. They can actually turn twigs into a yellow, or a fall colour-looking mode. So I think that’s what we’re seeing, a little bit more than normal but not abnormal at all.”

He said the phenomenon is common in poplars.

“The faster-growing trees are usually weaker-wooded ones, and that’s where you see most of your flagging, is in the trees that are more susceptible to environmental conditions because they are a weaker-wooded species, and poplar is that, for sure,” Anderson explained.

He added the normal autumn burst of colour is triggered by shorter daylight hours and cooler nighttime temperatures that have not occurred.


Geoff Smith is battlefordsNOW's News Director, business and agriculture reporter. He can be reached at [email protected] or tweet him @smithco.  

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