Keith Hansen, Smith County horticulturist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, said fall color often doesn't start fully developing until later in October, but the timetable depends on tree stress.
Trees that are too stressed because of lack of water will have leaves that begin to brown out and fall quickly, he said. He also noted that sandy soils fall to drought faster than soil with a longer water holding capacity.
“In that respect, the same plants may respond differently,” Hansen said. “It wasn't as hot this year, which was good, so there's not as much stress.”
He said he's also certain that rain last weekend was a plus for plant health in general, and if the area continues to get periodic rains, then that will be good for foliage with the temperatures cooling off.
Daniel Duncum, urban district forester with the Texas A&M Forest Service, agreed, saying, “I would think we'll have a pretty good coloration this year. A lot of times when plants are stressed like last year, you see a record performance from those that survive that are healthy.”
He said trees in a controlled environment generally get more coloration, but he estimated that recent rain could prolong coloration or turning of leaves.
“There (are) so many parameters that come into play. I would expect some fall colors this year, but I'm not really expecting anything really (radiant),” Duncum said.
Even if there isn't brilliant fall foliage, there should still be plenty of color for residents and visitors to see, especially when November arrives, said Susan Travis, assistant vice president of tourism/servicing for the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Last year, we thought that there wouldn't be a real pretty (turnout) because of the drought, but colors were good, (and) I feel like it'll be good (again)…,” she said.
“I think that people will definitely (come). I think it will be something people want to do in the next month or in November.”
She said people don't always seek information from the bureau, so it's hard to track exactly how many people come to look at the leaves.
But she noted that the Tyler area already sees an increase in visitors in October because of rose season and the Texas Rose Festival. Last year, the total economic impact during rose season was $2.2 million, and 108,000 people attended rose season festivities.
Mineola Mayor Bo Whitus said his town routinely gets groups at the Mineola Nature Preserve, where people in the fall can look out and see foliage.
Whitus said he expects less foliage this year because some trees were lost as a result of last year's drought.
Even now, though, he said he can see color beginning as he drives near town on U.S. Highway 69.
“You can't find a downtown parking spot this time of year. (People) will come to the preserve (for a variety of reasons). We have a lot of traffic in the area,” he said.