Expect A Less-Than-Stellar Leaf Peeping Season

By Adam Chick

September 17, 2012 Updated Sep 18, 2012 at 9:42 AM EST

Ithaca, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Don't expect such breathtaking scenery from foliage this season.

The lack of water and the heat are both contributing to what will be a less than stellar year.

While it might be a disappointing overall season for leaf peepers this year, there will still be sights to see.

"Because different species of trees have responded differently you're not going to get that collective big bang of color that we're so used to here in the northeast," said Karl Niklas, professor of plant biology at Cornell.

The lack of water has left trees doing whatever they can to stay hydrated and cool.

"They're in a semi wilted state, and a number of the older trees are already shedding their leaves. As a way of conserving whatever water they can," said Niklas.

They're shedding their leaves earlier as a way of conserving nutrients.

It's kind of like the sweating process, what mammals do to keep their bodies cool.

The heat is damaging the leaves on the trees, making it difficult for trees to hold onto them and benefit from them.

"A lot of the leaves that are still on the trees are physically damaged. And that physical damage makes it very difficult for the tree to withdraw nutrients. And that's part of the process that gives us the autumn coloration," said Niklas.

Karl Niklas says the coloration will probably happen sooner this year, maybe even the last week in September.