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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Autumn leaves in Tennessee will be colorful the week of the Tennessee-Alabama football game but even more spectacular the following week, a University of Tennessee forester said Friday.

Historically, the Vol-Bama game has been played the third Saturday in October, but this year the game is scheduled the second Saturday, Oct. 14.

“Colors in Tennessee trees should reach their peak by the third week in October,” said George Hopper of UT’s Agricultural Extension Service.

“The drought that has plagued parts of Tennessee won’t spoil the color show,” he said. “Some trees are more stressed than others and are already dropping their leaves. But, if you look out over the countryside, most trees are still green. So, fall foliage should be great.”

Weather has less effect on leaf color than most people believe, Hopper said.

“Weather can only affect intensity (of color). If September has many bright, sunny days and cool nights, color intensifies.”

Bright sunshine encourages leaves to manufacture sugar, and cool weather traps the sugar in the leaf instead of allowing it to move to the tree’s roots, Hopper said.

The trapped sugar intensifies the color of the leaf when the shorter days cause the chlorophyll, the green pigment in leaves, to disappear.

Contact: George Hopper (423-974-7126)