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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Trees in the Show Me State are beginning their beautiful transition into the fall season, and the state’s Department of Conservation (MDC) is providing weekly updates for those interested in seeing the color change firsthand.

Leaf peepers can visit the MDC’s Fall Colors page for reports on the changing landscape across the state. The report is updated weekly from foresters across the state, according to MDC Community Forester Ann Koenig.

Missouri’s fall color season can last anywhere from four to six weeks on average, from mid-September to late October.

Sassafras, sumac, and Virginia creeper are some of the earliest to change, beginning in mid-September. By late September, black gum, bittersweet, and dogwood are turning as well.

“As a general rule, the third week in October is a good time to pay attention to fall color in mid-Missouri,” Koenig said. “Colors are usually fading and leaves are falling by the end of the month.”

The change in the leaves depends greatly on the weather. As the MDC explains:

Chilly fall nights play a big role in the color display. Sugars produced by photosynthesis become trapped inside leaves. Those sugars are the building blocks for the rich red, yellow, orange, and purple pigments. Cooler nights cause the breakdown of green pigments, allowing fall colors to show through.

Missouri Dept. of Conservation