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Agricultural News

New USDA Hardiness Zone Map Reflects Changes

Thu, 09 Feb 2012 13:50:59 CST

New USDA Hardiness Zone Map Reflects Changes The USDA has released a new plant hardiness zone map. It reflects changes for the warmer in much of the country.

Dr. Peter Bretting of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service said, “We see a consistent shift, especially in the eastern U.S. of about a half zone warmer than in the prior map.”

The map documents changes of about five degrees Fahrenheit warmer per half zone since 1990.

Bretting said there are a number of factors leading to the redrawn map.

“It’s based on more data from more weather recording stations. And they were processed by a special mathematical formula that takes into account features of the landscape, such as mountains, large bodies of water, urban areas, which cause some heat islands. And it was recorded over a longer period, 30 rather than 15 years.”

This is the first time the map has been updated in 22 years.

It is an important tool for gardeners, government agencies and scientists.

“There are more than 80 million gardeners in the United States and many of them will use this as a reference as will landscape architects plant breeders,” Bretting said.

The map is also a vital tool affecting farm programs.

“The USDA Risk Management Agency will use the data for certain crop insurance parameters,” Bretting said.

Bretting also said the new maps are far more precise than older ones.

“The precision is about half a mile square, which is because of the new computerized technology is more precise than the prior maps, which were e based on sometimes artistic renditions of where zones began or ended.”

You can go to the interactive USDA Hardiness Zone map by clicking here.



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