Fall colors. (Scroll through!) They’re so beautiful but a bit of a mystery. The annual changing of colors generally starts at your location at the same time each year based on an increase in the length of darkness. This “long night” threshold is really the trigger that tells plants to stop producing energy. Chlorophyll, which makes the leaves green, is no longer produced, and all the other pigments that are in the leaves, like yellow, orange and red pop out. Temperature and soil moisture also play a big role in the brilliance and timing of fall colors. These factors have more to do with why some years colors are incredible or just so-so. An early frost, like we got a week ago with temps in the 20s can kill the colors, and we are seeing that now in many places around the Methow Valley with trees that never really hit their stride, are already brown, or are just more muted in color. Drought stress, like the long, hot summer we had, can also create a less than stellar fall foliage scene. Colors are at their best when there’s been a spring and summer with good moisture followed by a dry, cool but not too cold, sunny fall. This year in the Methow might not be breaking color records but there are amazing pockets of color to be found, and it’s still a perfect time to be outside and enjoy all that fall has to offer.