The second issue of the Georgia Forestry Commission’s Community Tree News newsletter for Georgia tree board members is now available. Don’t forget, the Tree City USA, Tree Campus USA and Tree Line USA application deadline is November 15th.

Community Tree News October 2017

View at this link: http://conta.cc/2iAeB8w


A week has made a tremendous difference in the amount and vibrancy of leaf color, especially at higher elevations. The cooler weather should help get things moving, as well and we’re in good shape for some excellent viewing in the next few weeks. We are starting see color at virtually all locations across north Georgia, but the best viewing over the next 7 days will continue to be at the higher elevations.

Northeast Georgia:

We are seeing change to some degree in virtually all species, with sourwoods, black gums, dogwoods, sumac and maples providing most of the reds and burgundies. Yellow poplar continues to show bright to golden yellows, and birch, black walnut, alder and the hickories are showing their rich golden hues. Maples are kicking in some yellow and orange, and so is sassafras.

Northwest Georgia:

The same species and colors are beginning to show overall, but the lower elevations are still lagging behind. Things should start picking up across the area in the next couple of weeks.

Percent of color change from green to date:  20%-90%

When’s peak? Elevations above 2500 feet are at peak or will hit within 7 to 10 days. Elevations below 2500’ will likely be a week to 10 days behind, which should give us good viewing into the first couple of weeks in November.

For a scenic drive this weekend…

Northeast Georgia’s highest elevations will provide the best color this weekend. Any trip through the high gaps (Unicoi/GA17, Neels/US 129, Woody/GA 60, Dicks Creek/US 76) will offer some opportunities, and the Richard Russell Scenic Hwy will continue to be a good bet. GA 60 from Blue Ridge to Suches is currently showing great potential. Note that GA 60 between Suches and Dahlonega is currently closed from 8:00-5:00 Monday-Friday for road work but you can connect with GA 180 at Suches to US 129.

North Central/Northwest Georgia –  GA 136 from Talking Rock to Dawsonville offers some good color, while the Lookout Mountain area remains a best bet for that NW corner of the state.

Cool nights and full sunshine spark the best fall color, so we’re still lagging a bit behind this year, which means the green is hanging on in the mountains!


Northeast Georgia:

You can find pockets of color scattered through the region with some trees showing vivid colors.  very good individual trees This week the sourwood, an annual early changer, has started up with its reds and burgundies. Dogwoods are showing earthy shades of red, and black gum is providing some bright red hues this week. The maples, while normally among the early changers, are in varying stages of green, red and yellow. Yellow  poplars continue to drop some of their foliage, while maintaining a fair amount of yellow, and birches and hickories are coming through with some golden yellows.

Northwest Georgia: The region usually lags behind the northeast by a week or two – so not much change here this week.

Percentage of color change from green to date is 5-40%

Scenic weekend drive:

Northeast Georgia –Georgia’s highest elevations continue to offer the most consistent color, but there’s still a lot of green. Any trip through the high gaps (Unicoi/GA17, Neels/US 129, Woody/GA 60, Dicks Creek/US 76) will offer some opportunities, and the Richard Russell Scenic Hwy is always a good bet.


Another storm crossed north Georgia this past week and left its mark, with many green leaves pulled off onto roads and yards. Some bruising and other damage has occurred, and temperatures have run in the mid and even upper 80’s in some locations. However, there is still a forest full of leaves that have just begun to change or that are just waiting to change.

Northeast Georgia:

Northeast Georgia is still mainly a canopy of green. However, we are definitely seeing change in individual trees and in groups of trees. And, depending on aspect (the direction the slope faces), elevation, and plant communities, we are seeing widespread change across some locations. Some of the best color right now is found on the roadsides and in areas with young growth and full sun.

Species that are currently showing color include the returning reds and burgundies of the sourwood, reds and some yellows of the maple and bright to golden yellows of the birch with the birch really coming on strong above about 2500 feet of elevation. We’re seeing more dogwoods with their reds and deep burgundies, sumac with some bright reds, and sumac showing yellows and orange-yellows. The yellow poplar, traditionally one of the early yellow color producers, is one of the trees that has seen early leaf loss, due in part to the storms, but you’ll still find it showing color in some areas.

Northwest Georgia:

Sourwood and maple continue to show color in the region that’s still showing lots of green. In addition, this week the northwest Georgia area is seeing cherry and yellow poplars starting to show some yellows, but again, a lot of foliage has been lost in the last two storms. Due to lower elevations in this area, we generally see about a week’s lag between the two regions, and next week or so should see increased change for the northwest.

Percentage of color change from green to date:  5%-40%

Peak should be the last week in October, into the first week of November.

Scenic drives:

Northeast Georgia – The yellows of the birch are really coming on along GA 180 between GA 17 and US 129. Take GA 180 to GA 180 Spur and travel up to Brasstown Bald, the highest point in GA.

Northwest Georgia – While it’s not vivid yet, a trip up towards Cloudland Canyon always provides a nice day.

Dale's Grove

Georgia Forestry Commission retiree, Dale Higdon, has been named one of three finalists in the prestigious Cox Conserves Heroes awards program created by WSB-TV’s parent company, Cox Enterprises, and the Trust for Public land. The program honors volunteers like Dale, who lends his time and forestry expertise to to the Georgia Piedmont Land Trust, Mill Creek Nature Preserve, American Chestnut Foundation, Georgia Urban Forest Council, Walk in the Forest event with the Society of American Foresters Chattahoochee Chapter, and more.

Visit http://www.coxconservesheroes.com/atlanta/finalists.aspx​​ to view a video about Dale, his time with GFC and his genuine spirit of volunteerism that makes us proud to have had him as part of the GFC family.

Voting takes place in October and individuals are permitted to vote once. If Dale receives the most votes, The Georgia Piedmont Land Trust will receive a $10,000 award.

This time last year we were trying to predict what the severe drought was going to do to our fall colors, and then we were watching mountain wildfires and thick layers of smoke. Mother Nature sent Irma this year and widespread, scattered tree damage was left in the form of uprooted trees and many downed limbs and tops. One additional factor that may have some impact on our color this year is the “bruising” of plant tissue; in some cases it may have resulted in the tearing or disruption of leaf stems and the death of leaves still on the trees, especially on the higher ridges and in some of the gaps. However, there are already signs of color change and Mother Nature rarely lets us down this time of year.

And in case you’re curious, the web-like structures/material you may see in some of our trees along the roads is the Fall Webworm. This caterpillar feeds on the foliage of many species and unfortunately, sourwood is among its favorites. This caterpillar will feed on the foliage and will often strip the tree of leaves. However, this time of year the leaves have completed their jobs, so the long term effects on the tree are minimal.

Continued cool nights and sunny days should provide us with the best chances for another great leaf season!

Northeast Georgia:

We are still likely a week out for significant color change in north Georgia. In the very highest elevations (Brasstown Bald), sourwood, which is one of our earliest turners, is starting to show some deep burgundies, though still mixed with green. Yellow birch is also showing its yellows in these upper slopes, as is sassafras which is starting with some yellows and orange.  Our maples are also just starting to show some deep reds, though color is limited and scattered.

Northwest Georgia:

As in Northeast Georgia, we’re still likely a week out for significant leaf color to begin. Some of the same species, including sourwood and maple, are beginning to show color, but again color is somewhat limited and scattered. 

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date:  5%

The weather is setting up for a good season with cooler nights and lots of sun. Continued similar weather should put us in good position for a great year.

Peak is a moving target, generally starting at the highest elevations and northern most latitudes and moving down in elevation and southerly in latitude and also influenced by aspect (direction of exposure) and species. Thus peak is different at different locations.

Overall peak, however, is generally around the last week and weekend in October. Given we may be a little late in starting this year, that window may stretch into early November.

This weekend is not likely to provide widespread leaf viewing but viewing the mountains any time of year is a treat.

Hurricane Irma is poised to take its place in the history books, and cities across Georgia are expected to be faced with tons of debris – on roadways, in parks and cemeteries, and everything in between. Many trees will be lost, which can take months to clean up. Safety for everyone is the first concern, and only then can clean up be addressed. Here are some tips and resources.

Chainsaw Safety, Contracting and Clean-Up

Urban trees provide health, environmental, economic and aesthetic values to communities, businesses and homes. Trees that are not properly maintained or which are stressed can quickly become major liabilities to people and property during hurricanes.

Immediate responses may be either to prune or remove your trees. These “do-it-yourself” efforts sometimes result in personal injuries, fatalities or property damage that homeowners are attempting to avoid. You can cause greater harm to the urban forest by removing healthy trees that do not need to be cut. Click the link below to download the PDF. For hard copies, please contact jscales@gfc.state.ga.us.

Managing Storm Damaged Trees: Do’s and Dont’s


Need the Help of a Certified Arborist to Assess City Trees? Let Us Know

Our foresters will be monitoring local communities for storm damage, but we need your help! If you have community trees that are putting lives and property at risk and need help assessing tree risk, please contact us to find out more about the services of the Urban Forest Strike Team. Send an email to jscales@gfc.state.ga.us. Watch the video below to see our team at work!

Urban Forest Strike Team Video

Visit our website at www.gatrees.org for more information