×

Despite the drought, leaf-peeping is on track in New Hampshire

  • Leaves in Concord turn to their autumn colors on Friday. Trees stop producing green chlorophyll when days get shorter in September and October, which allows underlying colors to show through. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Leaves in Concord turn to their autumn colors on Oct. 7, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—Monitor staff


Monitor staff
Friday, October 07, 2016

New Hampshire’s foliage is shaking off concerns that the dry summer would blunt the display, hitting peak colors in the North Country as the state enters the busy Columbus Day weekend.

That’s good news for the Granite State, which has come to depend on our leaf-peeping reputation. The state Depart ment of Travel and Tourism Development projects that about 9½ million people will visit this fall, spending roughly $1.42 billion.

The drought in New Hampshire has been so deep and long that some feared it would affect the fall foliage.

It would be unlikely to affect the timing, since that depends on the calendar. Trees stop producing green chlorophyll when days get shorter in September and October, which allows underlying colors to show through.

But the amount of orange and yellow chemicals that show up after chlorophyll disappears, and the amount of red chemicals produced by sugars in some species such as maples, can be hurt by weather in summer and fall, including the stress of drought.

Anecdotal reports this October, however, don’t seem to support those fears. Colors are said to be robust in the Mount Washington Valley, and leaves have begun changing clear down to the Massachusetts border.

This may be partly due to the fact that the drought is less severe in the White Mountains and western New Hampshire, which are the main leaf-peeping regions.

Tourism is generally considered the second-largest industry in the state in terms of revenue, depending on how you define manufacturing and high tech, considered the largest industry.

It’s important on the local scene, too. The Warner Fall Foliage Festival will runs from Friday through Sunday.

The state has an online foliage tracker at www.visitnh.gov/vacation-ideas/Foliage-Tracker.