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      Fall colors burst across mid-Missouri

      Within the last week, leaves have begun to rapidly change across mid-Missouri.

      The Missouri Department of Conservation said the upcoming week will likely be the peak of fall colors for the season.

      Leaves in Missouri usually start the process of changing color in mid-September and end by early November.

      It's a complex process that involves sunlight, temperature, and moisture.

      Trees contain cells that create food for the tree. Those cells use chlorophyll, the green pigment seen on leaves in the spring and summer.

      The chlorophyll absorbs energy from the sun to turn water and carbon dioxide into sugar to feed the tree.

      The colors we are seeing now are hidden, pigments called carotenoids.

      When autumn approaches, cooler temperatures and shorter days mean less energy for the leaves to make food for the tree.

      The chlorophyll then starts to break down and the green pigment disappears, allowing for the bright yellows and oranges to appear.

      Red and purple colors are newly created on warmer fall days when the leaves begin to make sugar, then get trapped inside the leaves when the temperatures drop at night.

      The colors can be seen all over mid-Missouri right now, including at Runge Nature Center and at Memorial Park in Jefferson City.

      Cindy Clifton enjoyed the colors at Runge this afternoon.

      "I was at home, it's a beautiful day, got tired of looking out my door and said that's it, I'm getting out of the house. I saw the beautiful colors and thought about them I thought this was the best place to come to walk around. It just gives you a feeling of being relaxed and looking at all the fall colors and everything," said Clifton.

      The Department of Conservation has an app called the "MO fall colors" app for smartphones that allows users to search real time fall color scenes along with their GPS locations. The app also allows users to upload their own fall color pictures and share them to social media.

      If you would like to share your fall photos with us, you can email them to news@krcg.com or post to our KRCG 13 Facebook page.