MADISON (WKOW) -- The calendar says we're in the middle of August. The trees in front of your home might think otherwise. It's easy to take a short drive and find a number of trees in our area already showing a dose of fall foliage.
UW horticulture expert Dr. Laura Jull told us the orange-red colors we're seeing are a result of heavy rains during August 2007, as well as wet conditions this past June, followed up by two months of relatively warm, dry weather. Jull said most of the trees turning colors right now are sugar maples.
"It has to do with genetics," she said. "Sugar maples are very sensitive to changes in the water table. That's the one I'm predominantly seeing turning early right now."
Jull said this color change is about a month ahead of schedule.
She told us it's still too soon to tell if other species of trees will change earlier as well. "It depends on if we get some moisture this fall," said Jull. "If it continues to be extremely dry and warm, then we're going to have earlier fall color."
Fall colors in southern Wisconsin tend begin in mid to late September. On average, Jull said they peak around October 11.
Jull said she is also working on a manual that will help explain the fall colors of woody lanscape plants. She said people will be able to order a copy beginning September 15 by CLICKING HERE.