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Why do leaves change color in the fall?

It's not just the changing of the seasons that impacts the color of leaves. Temperature, light and water also impact it.

MIDLAND, Texas — It's officially fall, which means you might start seeing leaves change from summer greens to autumn goldens.

Leaves get their green color from a chemical called chlorophyll, which helps trees take in sunlight.

Chlorophyll, if you remember back to science class, is what makes photosynthesis work. Tree leaves also have orange and yellow pigments, and this is what gives pumpkins and carrots their distinctive colors.

Because chlorophyll production in the warmer summer months is most active, the other pigments get drowned out.

When the temperature begins to cool off and the sunlight wanes, chlorophyll production drops, meaning the green color fades and the other colors... the yellows, oranges and reds... start to shine through.

But it's not just the changing of the seasons that impacts the color of leaves. Temperature, light and water also dictate the color of leaves.

Above freezing temperatures will favor bright red leaves in maples. If an early frost occurs, the reds will be more subdued. Rainy or overcast days in the fall help to increase intensity of fall colors.

The yellow, gold and orange colors in fall leaves remain fairly constant from year to year because these proteins are not impacted by weather.

So, when is the perfect time to see the leaves change here at home? Actually, right now is when we start to move into peak colors season in West Texas, now through about the first two weeks of November.

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