As summer winds down, the leaves of some trees start to change color much sooner than those around them.

Chlorophyll, the green pigment used during photosynthesis, masks the yellow and red pigments in leaves.  When sunlight and photosynthesis decline in autumn, the green chlorophyll, which is unstable, begins to break down and reveal the underlying colors.

That means that a tree changing much earlier than those around it is breaking down chlorophyll faster than it is being manufactured.  This is commonly a sign that the tree is under stress.  This could be related to moisture stress (too much OR too little water), root damage, or the presence of insects/disease.

When autumn foliage appears early, it is important to determine and address the underlying cause, especially before the onset of harsh winter weather.

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