EAST MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Tour buses continue to pack into a maple sugar farm on the outskirts of Vermont’s capital during the first week of October, the peak of foliage season for travelers looking for the brilliant red and yellow mountainsides that define the season.

While the leaf-peepers are here, mountainside-covering color is not.

Surveying the landscape from behind his business, Morse Farm Sugarworks owner Burr Morse spots pockets of color in the trees. But in other areas, a stand of sugar maple trees that should be vivid have already shed their leaves.

“I think there’s still a chance we’re going to see more color, but total, total brilliance — I’m not sure about that,” said Morse, who for about 40 years has hosted tourists during foliage season.

“I’m discouraged for the people who put all the money into traveling here who don’t get to see it, but it gives them another chance to come back I guess,” he said.

It’s a lament that is being repeated across northern New England, an area that thrives on foliage tourists during late September and October. The muted colors have come in a year in which experts had predicted the cool, wet summer would produce spectacular October foliage . But the summer was followed by a hot, dry September that kept the leaves producing the chlorophyll that keeps them green.

For longtime foliage watchers in northern New England, peak foliage is something to be savored, like the intensity of a fine wine, with the color and the timing of the peak varying every season. But even a number of them say something is off this season.

“I am not going to try to kid Vermonters, that’s for sure,” said Michael Snyder, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests,…