Fall colors coming soon

PHOTOS BY GARRY BRANDENBURG — All kinds of fall colors are coming soon to an open air theater near you. Admission is free. Popcorn and soft drinks are your own responsibility. The color show begins now and will last through October. Be prepared to see every shade of yellow, gold, red, brown, even latent greens, and a mixture of all the above on trees, shrubs and even on prairie grasses. Migrating birds will bring their own colors with them as demonstrated by this large flock of red-winged blackbirds at the Iowa River Wildlife Area.

AUTUMN COLOR SHOWS will soon descend upon us. Mother Nature provides this natural history display that we enjoy looking at, marveling at, and in some locations, fall tree color extravaganza’s bring large numbers of tourists to various parts of the United States. A bit closer to home here in Iowa, we can expect the transition of leaf color to proceed from north to south, a typical pattern because of latitude and day length changes. Those northern three tiers of counties can expect tree displays of changing leaves from now through mid October. For the middle tiers of Iowa counties, including Marshall, the first through the third week of October will be our peak color opportunities. Southern Iowa’s three tiers of counties should plan on the second through the fourth week of October.

Botanists who study tree leaf cell structures have long pondered the questions of why there is such a wide range of colors. It can get a bit technical. However, the colors we observe are the results of chemical changes within the leaves. Shorter daylight hours trigger pigment production as trees prepare for the fall season and winter yet to come. The trees are just shutting down production of food sources for the year, kind of like going on vacation to wait out the winter and next year’s return of spring.

All leaves gradually lose chlorophyll at an accelerated rate each fall. It is an orderly and progressive process that allows the plant to resorb much of the nitrogen in the structure of the pigment molecule. Carotenoid is just one pigment name. Other names include antlhocyanin, which is synthesized in some leaves to make them turn red. The actual shades of red are the result of the amounts of anthocyanin, the retention of carotenoids and even a bit of chlorophyll. Anthocyanin and chlorophyll produce brownish colors. Anthocyanins and carotenoids produce orange hues.

When raking your lawn leaves this fall, be mindful of the chemistry Mother Nature orchestrates in order to prepare plants at the end of the growing season and the beginning of a season of “sleeping” just to get ready for next Spring.

OUR AUTUMNAL EQUINOX day was Wednesday. Basically the sun rose over the horizon due east of us. Sunset was due west. If you had to drive to work early morning or home again in the evening, depending upon where you live and where you work, you could be having a lot of sunlight in your eyes. Fall, according to astronomical charts, happened Wednesday at 7:21 p.m. UTC, which is the same at 2:21 p.m. CDT. Rapidly changing day lengths are a fact of life during equinoxes. And the fall season for harvest of crops is a big deal in agricultural states in the Midwest. Garden produce is also at peak harvest time. Pumpkin sales will give us an orange color code of note that gardens will soon be taking a rest for late fall and winter times.

The primary reason we experience seasonal changes has to do with the physics of our earth’s orbit around the Sun. The axis of the earth is tilted with respect to the plane of its orbital pathway. Axial tilt stays pointed at the same angle as the earth transitions along its orbital highway in space. Our northern hemisphere’s transition to fall is the southern hemisphere’s transition to a new Spring season.

PHEASANT SEASON will have its beginning opener on Oct. 30. However, in preparation of that exciting time, here is your early bird announcement for the Marshall/Tama County Pheasants Forever banquet and fundraiser event — Nov. 6 at the Midnight Ballroom, 1700 South Center St. There will be games and raffles and silent plus live auctions. Tickets purchased in advance get a discount. Call Steve Armstrong at 641-751-1668 or John Fox at 641-751-4487. Put the date on your calendar to attend this PF event. Your dollars help make a difference for habitat and conservation projects.

Iowa’s 2021-22 pheasant hunting season begins Oct. 30 and runs through Jan. 10, 2022. Hunting hours are 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily with a three bird per day limit for rooster pheasants. According to an Iowa DNR pheasant distribution map derived from August roadside counts, northwest and north-central Iowa has the highest probabilities of finding these colorful game birds. Poweshiek County located southeast of Marshall had improved bird counts this fall. Check out Iowa DNR websites to look at the pheasant distribution map, along with other maps for rabbits and quail or gray partridge.

DEER HUNTING SEASONS have started for youth and/or disabled persons. That time frame opened on Sept. 18 and ends Oct. 3. Archery deer season began for urban authorized hunts on Sept. 18 and will run unobstructed through Jan.10, 2022. Iowa’s archery deer season opens Oct. 1 to Dec. 3 and closes during gun deer seasons. Archery reopens on Dec. 20 and ends Jan. 10, 2022.

As of midweek, Iowa youth have taken 891 deer statewide.

NATIONAL HUNTING & FISHING DAY is this weekend, actually on Saturday, a time to celebrate the rich traditions of hunting, fishing and target shooting. An official recognition for Hunting and Fishing day began in 1971 when Congress approved it. So in 1972, President Richard Nixon proclaimed the kick-off by stating “I urge all citizens to join the outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in ensuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.” This recognition is a testament to the support hunters and fishermen have provided to wildlife conservation through self-imposed excise taxes on hunting arms and via license fees. Since 1939, programs have provided $65.1 billion for habitat restoration and public lands.

To help celebrate, on Oct. 3, the Izaak Walton League will host a Sporting Clay Shoot, a 100 bird walk-through course. Registration is from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Youth are free with an adult age 19 or older. Normal fee to shoot is $40. Food will be available on site. The Ikes grounds are located at 2601 Smith Ave.

The official home of National Hunting and Fishing Day is the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium located in Springfield, Mo. If you are ever thinking about a road trip to Springfield, do make a point of taking a day or two to tour the Wonder of Wildlife Museum. It encompasses 350,000 square feet of exhibits. A walk through aquarium allows visitors to look up and directly at fish swimming in a huge water filled exhibit. This national museum has planned growth for more additions in the next few years to incorporate the Pope & Young archery museum’s exhibits and artifacts. It is a growing enterprise of the highest magnitude.


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