What autumn leaves can tell you

RENO, Nev (KOLO) - If you missed it in your third grade science class, arborist Dale Carlon tells us why leaves change every autumn.

“The oranges and yellows and stuff that you see are there year round. But as the chlorophyll production starts to slow down, the green pigment goes away, and that's when you see the colors come out,” says Carlon.

At Caughlin Ranch the trees are showing off their full spectrum of reds, golds and oranges.

If you think this year's color is better than average, you would be right.
Carlon says that's because the temperatures lowered slowly allowing for the full variety of color.

But if your trees and bushes seemed to have changed color faster this year, that may be a problem with your irrigation system.

“Great indicator if you see trees on a long line. And you see some that have turned color early. That is an indicator of stress. That's a great time to check your irrigation system,” says Carlon.

Carlon recommends getting the irrigation system fixed now before it becomes a bigger problem in the spring.

He also says he's been getting calls from homeowners worried about how certain trees act this time of year.

“I have folks calling me now, about Austrian Pines. And they are very concerned that there are needles turning brown. As long as the needles are on the inside of the branches that is totally fine. That is what they are supposed to do this time of year. That is essentially shedding,” says Carlon.

What about trees that aren't a uniform color, one side is green, the other yellow and orange?

Carlon says that is perfectly normal, it can mean the sun it hitting the tree at a different angle.

Enjoy the colors now he says, because as the temperatures dip in the 30s this week the leaves will start to drop to the ground.

Speaking of lower temperatures, it may be time to turn off that outside water as well.

Carlon is the consulting arborist for the Truckee Meadows Water Authority.

If you pay a water bill he can come to your house free of charge for tree evaluation and report.

You can reach Dale Carlon at dalecarlon@yahoo.com.