The fall foliage season has begun.
Although Saturday marked the first day of fall, leaves in Northwestern Pennsylvania tend to hold out a little past the equinox.
This year, however, due to the early arrival of spring weather, the trees are shutting down earlier.
Times Observer photo by Ben Klein
Fall colors breaking out
Leaves are starting to show fall colors along Scranton Hollow Road in Farmington Township.
"We've already started the fall foliage season," Cecile Stelter, Cornplanter district forester for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said. "People think that it's a little bit early, they're probably correct. But, with a warm March and early spring, it would stand to reason that we would have an early fall."
The season has begun, but the peak has yet to arrive.
According to a release from the Allegheny National Forest, "We typically say that 'peak' for leaf color is Oct. 8 through 10."
"It's probably going to peak a little early - that first weekend going into the second week in October," Stelter said.
At the peak, colors might fall a little short of usual.
"Colors are a little bit dull," she said. "I still think we're going to have some good color. Warmer days and cooler nights sets us up to have some nice color."
As days get shorter, trees produce less chlorophyll, resulting in less green in the leaves, she said. As the green decreases, other colors come out.
"We're going to see some reds, especially in the red maple and the blackgum," Stelter said. "A lot more of the yellows. Maybe not so much of the orange colors."
A dry summer will result in less color, and this year, "extensive infestations" of fall webworms have caused defoliation in some areas and particularly among some trees, Stelter said.
"They've eaten a lot of the leaves," she said. "And, under the stress (of the worms) leaves are turning brown and falling."
According to the Forest Service release, black cherry is one of the species most affected by the worms. "Some trees have already experience defoliation as a result, but maple trees are not impacted."
How bright the fall colors will be has not been fully decided yet.
"Continued moisture is a key variable for color," according to the Forest Service.
"No heavy rains or no dry spells, we still should have a nice colorful fall," Stelter said. "We encourage people to get out and enjoy Penn's woods. It's a beautiful time of the year."