Missouri is predicted to have an average to above average year for fall colors. In good seasons, Missouri’s fall color slowly changes from mid-September to peak in mid-October.
Weather is a factor in how colorful the trees and shrubs are in the fall. The more sunshine during the day, the more red color is produced. The red and purple colors come when sugars are made during warm days, then trapped in the leaves during cool nights. If the weather is cloudy and the nights stay warm, there won’t be as much vivid red in such trees as maple, sweet gum, oak, and dogwood.
Trees lacking water during the growing season might drop their leaves before they color. If Missouri gets too cold early on, that kills the leaves before they can show off their colors.
In the fall, shorter days and cooler nights mean the green fades and yellow can be seen in such trees as hickory, ash, birch, maple, sycamore, cottonwood, and sassafras.
Resource Forrester Cory Gregg with the Missouri Department of Conservation said maple trees have the best coloring.
“Around the river bluffs is where you are going to find more maple. So that’s generally where you are going to try to focus as far as finding good fall color,” said Gregg. “In the urban areas, there’s a few other species. We’ve got all kinds of different ornamental species that you can find that have different colors. Another big one would be sweet gum.”
Gregg said sugar maple, red oak and ash trees in rural areas show the best colors, while sweet gum trees are one of the finest in urban areas.
For the best colors, Gregg said you can’t go wrong along one of Missouri’s major rivers.
“That’s probably where you are going to have a little more maple mixed in. You’ll have plenty of oak, hickory, ash and other species,” said Gregg.
Gregg expects leaves to turn colors and also start dropping heavily in mid to late October.