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Has fall arrived early, or are trees just stressed out?

In this article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Travis McDonald, district manager of Davey's Minneapolis office, tells readers why they might be seeing some early leaf color this season.  

Posted: September 4, 2015 

By Kim Palmer 

We've barely turned the corner on September, and already, the maple in my back yard is turning color and dropping leaves. I've noticed a couple other trees in my neighborhood doing the same thing.  

Signs of an early fall? No. More likely a cry for help.   

Most tree species start turning color around the third week of September in the Twin Cities, according to Travis McDonald, a certified arborist in Eden Prairie with Davey Tree. 

If your tree is well ahead of schedule this year, it's probably a distress signal. 

"Early fall color can be health-related," he said. "If trees are stressed, they're going to defoliate," especially at the crown.  

Trees can become stressed for a variety of reasons:

1. Lack of water. Even though the Twin Cities is not currently experiencing drought conditions, that's no guarantee individual trees are getting enough moisture. "We've had downpours instead of nice, consistent rains," said McDonald. Urban trees, especially those planted in islands of turf grass, may not be getting much runoff.

The remedy: Keep the hose and sprinkler going well into fall. "Turf grass can go dormant, but trees still need watering up until freezing," McDonald said. That goes for evergreens as well as deciduous trees. 

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