October 19, 2008

An update of autumn at the farm. Enjoy these photos!

Autumn is very colorful this year in the Northeast, and one of the nicest things to do in the fall is to drive through the countryside and observe the spectacular, vivid shades of leaves.

Do you ever wonder why certain kinds of trees put on such a brilliant display? Well, during the growing season, most tree leaves are green because of the presence of a pigment called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is used by plants to capture sunlight needed for photosynthesis, the process that enables the plants to manufacture their own food. The chlorophyll content is so high during the summer months that its strong green color masks all other pigments that are present in the leaf. As the days grow shorter and temperatures get cooler, chlorophyll production slows and eventually stops, exposing the other hues.

The other pigments are mainly carotenoids, which provide yellow, orange, and brown colors. Anthocyanins, which give the red and purple colors, are produced in the fall, in response to autumnal bright light and sugars in the leaf.

Autumn color is greatly influenced by temperature and moisture. A rainy summer followed by crisp, sunny days seems to bring on the best show of colors. But nature is mysterious, and fall is often gorgeous even when there has been a drought.

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