Pacific Ag Commodities: How the revamped USDA Plant Hardiness Maps can help you as a farmer:

November 12, 2012

For the first time in over 20 years, the USDA has revamped the zones in its Plant Hardiness map. This is very important for farmers as the USDA’s Risk Management Agency uses the zone designations for crop insurance standards and scientist’s use the plant hardiness zones as a data layer in many research models such as modeling the spread of exotic weeds and insects.

“This is the most sophisticated Plant Hardiness Zone Map yet for the United States,” said Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. “The increases in accuracy and detail that this map represents will be extremely useful for farmers, gardeners and researchers.”

The 2012 Plant Hardiness Map is the standard by which farmers can determine which plants and crops are most likely to thrive in a specific location.

Farmers can go to this website: www.planthardiness.ars.usda.gov, and can search for their zone by their zip code to obtain a wide range of data including the average annual extreme minimum temperatures at a given location during a particular time period. Making more information available to farmers is one step in the goal towards creating a sustainable food supply for the future.