Commissioner Michael Synder of Forest, Parks, and Recreation, along with his team of foresters throughout the state of Vermont writes this report on a weekly basis to update visitors on the progression of foliage throughout the season. This report is based on scientific data and is provided as a resource as you plan your Vermont vacation. Peak foliage can vary depending on weather conditions.
September 12, 2022: As a glorious Vermont summer begins to fade and we look ahead to autumn, the stage is set for another season of resplendent fall color. While it’s still early, the preview has already begun, with occasional reds on sentinel trees beginning to show along with yellows emerging as green leaves on standalone trees fade.
Although the trees are coming into the season in good shape, every year there are stresses and pests that sometimes spike and affect summer leaves, which in turn impacts what we see in fall. This year that includes both drought and some leaf-eating insects. The entire state is experiencing abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions, with a small area in severe drought. Severe drought takes its toll on trees, turning leaves crunchy and brown, but moderate drought conditions can enhance color development, so this may be to our aesthetic advantage. Spongy moths defoliated many trees, particularly on the western side of the state, and in areas where drought and spongy moth damage compound we can expect some pockets of declined color and open canopies. However, most of those trees were able to re-flush a new set of leaves, and we can expect good things as the season progresses.
In fact, many forest watchers have observed an annual, early wave of muted foliage as leaves that are scorched, curled, chewed, or tattered turn first. But fear not. The leaves in the forest canopy are deep and the early turning of this first small round of leaves merely makes room for a deeper look at all that’s to come.
What can we expect for the weeks ahead? The trees have done their part, and now we count on favorable weather to provide the perfect fall foliage recipe. Days are getting shorter and the trees know it, responding by gearing up for winter and creating this colorful byproduct. The ideal ingredients are seasonable weather with classic, bright sunny days, crisp nights, and gentle rains. If summer-like weather continues into fall, we can expect a more gradual display that lingers longer. But while the season may play out deliciously slowly, it feels fast, so pay attention and don’t miss any opportunity to experience some of the best our great state offers this time of year!