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Delayed But Longer Fall Foliage Season Expected In New England

BOSTON (CBS) - Fall in New England can be filled with apple picking, hay rides and enjoying the incredible landscape Mother Nature puts on display, considerably the best in the country. With all the rain this summer yielding a great growing season, timing the Fall foliage and predicting how great it will be takes an expert.

"The season looks great overall, but there are some factors that could impact our leaves going forward," says Jim Salge.

Salge has been forecasting New England Fall foliage for a decade now with Yankee Magazine and says before all the rain this summer, a dry spring led to a thinner canopy and record amount of gypsy moths.

"One of the worst years in 30 years of record keeping. So we had hundreds of thousands of acres desiccated across all of New England this year. They grew back, but it will definitely have an impact on leaf color in some areas," Salge told WBZ-TV.

Fall Foliage

Leaf color will also be different across New England where trees are stressed.

"Now right along the Canadian border, things are little bit different, they never got the summer rain, they continued to be in a drought, so those trees are stressed, so they are going to have fall foliage that is coming on early… fast, punctuated and gone quickly," Salge said.

Cloudy and windy conditions can have an impact on the season as well as any tropical systems. Warm, sunny days and cool nights really allow those vibrant colors to show and a continued warm and wet pattern is likely to have an impact.

"We think that this is going to cause the Fall foliage to be a little later than normal, and probably last a little longer this year, it may lack some of the bright punch we're used to seeing, but the longer season should more than make up for it," Salge explained.

Changing color is already being observed in some parts of New England.

"Way up along the Canadian border, it's already racing towards peak, we should see peak next week, but that wave of color is going to move south over the next month to six weeks and arrive in Boston in late October and early November. So, we have plenty of time to see it and can't wait till it gets here," said Salge.

WBZ asked Salge his favorite spot in New England to view the foliage.

"That's tough, I love the White Mountains, and there are so many great areas within the White Mountains, but I'd probably say the Kancamagus Highway is pretty tough to beat. You can go there any time over a three-week window and see peak color somewhere around the route," he said.

Salge will be providing weekly updates on on where to find the best color along with great road trip ideas until the last leaf falls this Autumn.

When colors do peak closer to home, there is one place locally you don't want to miss.

"The Arboretum is really the crown jewel of Fall color in the city of Boston," says Andrew Gapinski.

Andrew Gapinski is the director of Horticulture at the Arnold Arboretum. He tells WBZ that you don't have to travel far to find great Fall color with thousands of different species at the Arboretum that will bring a mosaic of colors.

"When you come to the Arboretum, you're really going to see the bubble gum machine of Fall color. I would say that it is the best place to observe the diversity of the season in the city," Gapinski said.

Leaves are just starting to change slightly and expected to continue over the next several weeks.

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