For the SE OK environmental sciences professor, the height of fall calls for a field trip
LE FLEUR COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – As the light fades into the shorter days and the summer growing season arrives, the Ouachita Mountains rise gently on the southern border of the Arkansas River Valley.
Autumn leaves appear yellow first in elm and walnut trees. The red is followed by oak, sumac and sweet gum.
Carl Albert College professor Cody Tackett grew up in Bocoche, hunting deer and marveling at the fall colors on his walks through the woods.
“There is a phenomenon called photoperiodism that describes shorter periods of daylight,” he tells us. “This is a special time of year for me.”
He remained interested enough in the show to learn a lot about what happens when the days shorten and those bright colors appear.
“The yellow color appears first most of the time,” he says. “This is because of a chemical called a carotenide. Then, later, a chemical called anthocyanin gives trees like oak their dark red, purple, or brown colors.”
In the classroom, he teaches students about environmental and soil science and proper sampling.
When the foliage in Le Flore County reached its absolute peak earlier in November of 2023, they took a field trip to the mountains to see for themselves.
“I was able to see a very wonderful panorama of the south of the Le Flore department,” he gushes.
Tackett thinks this year has been good, but fleeting.
A sudden cold snap, then a gentle breeze and the beautiful leaves fell softly to the ground.
We missed it, he lamented.
But this part of the State still has enough to show us in the late afternoon, on the slopes south of the College, and on Cavanal Hill.
For people who have to travel to see it, getting here at the right time and place is difficult.
But even missing a bit it still puts on a very good show.