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Wisconsin trees may have less vibrant fall colors this year

A tree changes colors in Appleton Sept.; 11, 2017. (WLUK/Scott Hurley)
A tree changes colors in Appleton Sept.; 11, 2017. (WLUK/Scott Hurley)
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MADISON (AP) -- With the first day of autumn right around the corner, experts predict recent weather conditions in Wisconsin could mean fall colors will be less vibrant.

Colleen Matula, a forestry specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in Ashland, said forest health, temperature, precipitation and cloud coverage can all affect how quickly leaves turn color and how vibrant that color is.

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She told Wisconsin Public Radio that increased rain this year means many trees are getting fungal diseases on the leaves. Matula said fungal diseases can affect the color and volume of leaves.

Southwest Wisconsin is dealing with a different type of weather problem.

National Weather Service officials in La Crosse said southwest Wisconsin recently has had abnormally dry conditions.

"The trees, in order to stay vibrant in color, you want to have cool nights and lots of water, and what we're getting is kind of a drought-like time," said Dorothy Lenard, administrator for natural science and mathematics at Viterbo University in La Crosse.

Lenard said leaves will turn brown due to a lack of water. She said the region is already starting to see the impact of the weather conditions on local trees.

"So if you look out, you'll see lots more brown in the trees and trees turning yellow earlier," Lenard said.

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Parts of northern Wisconsin currently have about 60 percent of leaves changing color while the southern region has about 30 percent of trees changing color, Matula said.

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