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December 21, 2006

USDA Zone Changes


Just in case you have friends who don't believe that global warming is happening, please note this landmark event--- The National Arbor Day Foundation has just released the revised USDA grow zone maps of North America, and as many of us have noted, we indeed have become warmer by at least one zone. Horrors!

I am now USDA Zone 6!, and not 5. hmmmm,

I see good and bad in this news only from the perspective of 'what I can grow now' but, of course, fundamentally, this is tragic news and a confirmation of why so many things are happening - I haven't seen an Evening Grosbeak since the early 1980's, since now they don't migrate this far from Canada any more, so the sunflowerseed tabletop feeders that once would be covered with these gold and black, parrot-like birds from my childhood memories, and that.....just memories. BUt my heating bill for the greenhouse is remarkable low this year, and some hardy camellia are growing in my formally zone 5 Massachusetts garden, as well as Nerine. Maybe Burpee will start offering the formally "too tender to grow" species from Heronswood now, since that was one of the reasons why they felt that the landmark nursery fails to deliver a profit to them. Now that we are all zone 6 or higher, let's bring back the 1" think bible of a catalog! (more on that later!)

But come on.......USDA zone changes? Wow....I suppose this will come as good new to some, but to most gardeners, this is frightening news. Especially to alpine plants growers and thsoe who grow Primula and other cold loving plants. I surely can see the joy in keeping more tender bulbs, over in the garden now, and have been noticing myself that I was having success with wintering over zone 6 and 7 plants. But overall, this indication of global warming scares me to know end...

NOTE: Thanks to viewer Doug Green, who kindly responded with additional (and more accurate information) the USDA is NOT currently changing the zone status, the information which I provided come only from the Arbor Day Foundation, and not the USDA, Doug notes: "I think you'll find that the official USDA zone map has not changed. What has changed is the arbor day organization zone rating. These are two unconnected projects. The USDA map is in the working stage to change from a 15 to a 30 year data map but is not yet done according to Tony Avent who sits on the committee and reported same on the alpine-l listserv. Just to clarify things a bit. Doug "

Thanks Doug...I gues that'a what I get for rushing and not doing my homework!

4 comments :

  1. I'm just going to continue to plant zone five. I have enough heartache when plants die to go and court disaster with too much enthusiam.

    I happened to find this quote just today:
    It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it. -Dan Quayle

    Uh, yeah. Somebody must have carefully explained that to him, only to have him miss the point entirely. And that was back when changing our path might have accomplished something. Sigh.

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  2. Matt: I think you'll find that the official USDA zone map has not changed. What has changed is the arbor day organization zone rating. These are two unconnected projects.

    The USDA map is in the working stage to change from a 15 to a 30 year data map but is not yet done according to Tony Avent who sits on the committee and reported same on the alpine-l listserv.

    Just to clarify things a bit.

    Doug

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  3. Deborah11:14 AM

    Hi- I'm moving to Amherst soon and was hoping that someone could tell me Amherst's zone (from S. Florida).

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  4. Anonymous2:19 AM

    Wrong. The USDA contracted a company to produce a new zone map in 2003. The map can still be found online. The data they constructed used the same time line as the grossly outdated 1990 map. The results were even warmer than Arbor Day's map and map was pulled. Rumor has it that some people in the USDA were bothered by the warming...hmmm, a government entity...So they decided that 30 years of records would better "pad" the alarming amount of warming! The result? We will be receiving a watered down map that will be outdated by the time it reaches us. Don't want to alarm the public!

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