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Unless there is more rain soon autumn will be brown and crispy and not colourful, say experts


For a dazzling autumn display, a warm and slightly moist summer is needed so that the trees can build up sugars, which create the colours in their leaves say experts from Forestry Commission England. 

Although this summer has been warm enough, with record-breaking temperatures, so far it has been far too dry for spectacular autumn colour.

June saw only 4.4mm of rain at Westonbirt, the National Arboretum, which is only 8% of the 30 year average of 57mm. This is a similar story across nearly all of England with data from the Met office showing that it ranks within the top five driest Junes on record (figures dating back to 1910) with a record set in the 1920s being broken for the South East and Central Southern England region where 3.0 mm of rainfall was recorded, just 6% of what you would expect for the month as a whole.

Andrew Smith, the Forestry Commission’s Director at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum in Gloucestershire said:

“Autumn’s foliage displays are certainly affected by the weather; trees need a healthy balance of sunlight and rain to produce sugars, which create the colours in their leaves.

“Unless there is some more rain soon autumn will be brown and crispy and much less colourful. It may all be over by September. Already some maples are looking brown and may not recover.”

Heavy rainfall was seen across the UK last weekend and with more heavy showers predicted, could this rainfall save autumn? 

Andrew continued:

“It’s always entertaining trying to predict when autumn will fall and what it will look like.

“This year it will be interesting to see how the trees progress, as well as the weather between now and October.

“At Westonbirt, we have already experienced a 7-week drought and the trees would definitely welcome some rain. Along with autumn colour, due to the dry spell some of trees planted last winter are starting to die, both at Westonbirt and in our forests across England”.

With temperatures expected to remain widely above average for the most with further spells of very warm or hot conditions probable and likelihood at very hot conditions at times autumn colour may be over before it has begun this year.

However heading to your local Forestry Commission Woodland can provide you with the much needed shade provided by the tree canopy, keeping you nice and cool in this record breaking summer.