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In the news: New hardiness zone map and more

New USDA Hardiness Zone Map

New USDA Hardiness Zone Map

There was extensive coverage of the USDA’s release of a new and improved hardiness zone map January 25. Here’s a sampling:

USDA Unveils New Plant Hardiness Zone Map [USDA news release] — “Compared to the 1990 version, zone boundaries in this edition of the map have shifted in many areas. The new map is generally one 5-degree Fahrenheit half-zone warmer than the previous map throughout much of the United States. This is mostly a result of using temperature data from a longer and more recent time period; the new map uses data measured at weather stations during the 30-year period 1976-2005. In contrast, the 1990 map was based on temperature data from only a 13-year period of 1974-1986.”

Plant-Zone Map a Boon to Growers [Wall Street Journal] – “David Wolfe, a Cornell University professor who studies climate change, said he ‘would not be so cautious as [the USDA officials] were in their statements.’ In isolation, the new map ‘doesn’t prove climate change’ but when combined with other observations, including shifts in animal migration patterns, changes in snow cover and other temperature readings, it ‘corroborates evidence’ of such a change, he said.”

New climate controversy? US map shows warmer planting conditions [] – “‘At a time when the ‘normal’ climate has become a moving target, this revision of the hardiness zone map gives us a clear picture of the ‘new normal,’ and will be an essential tool for gardeners, farmers, and natural resource managers as they begin to cope with rapid climate change,’ Wolfe told The Associated Press.”

USDA ‘Plant Hardiness’ Map Shifts Temperature Zones North [Bloomberg News] – “The trend toward warmer temperatures is ‘part and parcel of climate change,’ David Wolfe, a plant and soil scientist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, said by telephone. Winter lows that creep upward, shown on the new map, mean more pests will survive to destroy grains, oilseeds and other crops during growing seasons, he said.”

In the zone: USDA’s new plant hardiness map shows we’re getting warmer [] – “Perhaps the biggest change for Upstate New York is that zone 6 is creeping farther south from the shores of Lake Ontario, said [Nina Bassuk]. ‘The warmer area near Lake Ontario has bled south, following the Finger Lakes,’ she said. ‘Warmer winters are extending as far down as Ithaca and Watkins Glen.’ While Bassuk said the new map will not have a ‘huge impact’ for gardeners, it may encourage them to try to grow plants they might not have tried before.”

Plant Hardiness Zone Map warms up [] – “‘One thing I have learned from growing plants in many locations in the U.S. is that plants can’t read,’ said William Miller, Cornell University professor of horticulture. ‘One should experiment and try to push the hardiness rating. You never know what might survive,’ Mr. Miller said.”

USDA releases new gardening zone map – Amy Ivy, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Clinton/Essex County, discusses the new map on this podcast.

See also: The Brand New USDA Hardiness Map: Already Out of Date? – Interview with David Wolfe on GardenRant.

Update 2/6/2012: David Wolfe on All Things Considered:

In other news

Five (Nearly) Kill-Proof House PlantsNeil Mattson weighs in on the Bob Vila blog “It’s amazing what plants can survive,” he says.

City of Oneonta looking for homeowners willing to care for planted trees – The City of Oneonta Environmental Board is following up on a recent tree inventory by Student Weekend Arborist Team (SWAT).

Campus Area Farms offer lots of living lab space [Cornell Chronicle, 1/30/2012] – Farm manager Tim Dodge and staff keep research humming. “‘Tim and his crew work nonstop all year,’ says plant breeder Mike Mazourek, at work on breeding cucumbers resistant to a devastating blight. ‘Consider that they’re preparing a hundred research plots to meet the standards of a dozen-plus researchers and the needs of a dozen different kinds of crops. That takes careful attention to detail. And when the crew isn’t in the fields, they’re fixing equipment and maintaining lab space.'”

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