DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Cool and wet weather left the Miami Valley with a taste of fall this past weekend, and another rite of fall is close behind the change of color in the leaves.

Some trees are beginning to have leaves changing colors, just the first time that fall is near. The temperature and length of the day is the main contributor to the changing color, but the actual compounds for the red, yellow, and orange leaves are present all year, just overshadowed by chlorophyll.

Meredith Cobb, horticulture technician at Five Rivers Metroparks said, “ Those colors are actually compounds that are in the leaves year round and what is happening is the chlorophyll which is the green part that we usually see, is diminishing and it allows those other colors to come forward.”

The need for leaves to change color and die is an important factor in the survival of the tree through the long harsh winter.

Scott Myers, executive director of the Miami County Park District said, “It’s basically their way of going dormant for the winter much like bears go into hibernation. Trees, that’s their way they go into hibernation so they can conserve all of their energy through the winter since they aren’t going to have near as much sunlight or the heat and that kind of stuff for them to grow.”

Myers says our normal peak foliage is early to mid October. Predicting the intensity and the peak dates is a difficult task however, as weather plays a big role on both of those properties. With the wet summer, the trees are currently very healthy, but upcoming fall weather is just as important.

Cobb said, “If we have a really dry fall, typically the colors that we would like to see on the trees, the reds, the yellows, and things, it happens much quicker because they basically need to go dormant because they are not getting enough moisture.”

Cobb said that the buckeye tree has begun to change colors, while other species will later in the fall.