Plant hardiness zones creep up

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Plant hardiness zones creep up

We gardeners have been waiting for years, and today the wait is over as the U.S. Department of Agriculture  (USDA) finally released its 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, updating a useful tool for gardeners and researchers for the first time since 1990.

In these two decades, the new map shows warmer conditions for much of the U.S. — a half zone to one full zone warmer in some spots. But didn’t we gardeners already suspect that?

David Wolfe, a professor of plant and soil ecology at Cornell University, was quoted in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram as saying the USDA is being too cautious and the new map plainly reflects warming.

The revised 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 wrote in an email to the Associated Press.

Like much of the nation, Crazy Rooster Farm has moved up from Zone 4a (-30 to -25 F) in 1990 to Zone 4b (-25 to -20 F). It’s just not as cold anymore.

You can find out about the changes in your neighborhood on the USDA Agriculture Research Service’s interactive website which allows you to enter your zip code or state to find your plant hardiness zone.

Here’s the formal announcement as reported in the Star Tribune.

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