A West Virginia University forest ecologist is optimistic about this years fall color season.

Ray Hicks, a professor in WVU s Division of Forestry and Natural Resources, thinks the region will enjoya beautiful fall color season, especially in the northern tier of counties where we have had better rainfall this year.

Rainfall levels have allowed trees to retain most of their foliage, Hicks explained.

Much of what people mistake for early fall coloration is leaf drop induced by late summer drought,he added.

This has been especially noticeable in the southern and eastern counties of West Virginia this year. Yellow-poplar is particularly prone to such leaf drop.

Hicks explained that fall coloration is induced by shortening day-length, which is occurring right now.

Color is enhanced by days of bright sunshine, which we have been getting for over a week now,Hicks said.The result should be a very bright fall, indeed.

Hicks predicted that this will be especially true for the northern counties where most of the leaves are still on the trees.

A couple of crisp fall nights would help to synchronize the event, and it remains to be seen if we will get that,he added.

Hicks noted that the peak color time in north-central West Virginia usually occurs between the second and last weeks of October.

It looks like conditions are on track to be about on schedule this year,Hicks said.