Minnesota’s Fall Colors
One of the highlights of living in Minnesota is being part of the constantly changing seasons, especially in the Fall when the colors change between mid-September (Northern Minnesota) to mid-October (Southern Minnesota). There’s really nothing like it; the slight chill in the air, the wonderful smell of leaves that have fallen to the ground, the clear blue skies… it’s wonderful time to live in Minnesota.
Most of the Fall colors in Minnesota come from the native broadleaf hardwoods such as Maple, Oak, Ash, Elm located in North Central to Southeastern Minnesota, and the Aspens and Birch that live in Northern Minnesota. Many smaller plants like Sumac, Goldenrod, Asters, and Sunflowers also play a huge role with brightly colored leaves and blooms.
Conditions that Impact Fall Color
Unfortunately not every Fall in Minnesota is spectacular in terms of color. Certain years result in duller colors than others due to various weather conditions throughout the year. The following is a list of conditions that have an impact on the vibrancy of the Fall colors in Minnesota.
- Warm, moist summers produce the highest quality Fall foliage.
- Colors are best when high quality foliage is exposed to sunny, cool fall days.
- Light frosts may improve colors, but a hard freeze can ruin the display.
- Cool, wet summers can cause premature displays of color.
- A mild summer drought may increase the display of color.
- Severe drought usually dulls colors noticeably.
- A lack of water may cause foliage to die early and turn straw-colored.
- A severe summer drought will create a landscape filled with subtler colors of tan, bronze and auburn.
Current Fall Color Reports
To get the most up-to-date information on the changing Fall color conditions in Minnesota, be sure to visit the Minnesota DNR Fall Color Reports web page.
Condition List Source: Jana Albers, DNR Forest health specialist, Grand Rapids, MN