[NAFEX] USDA Zones chill hours & heat etc - Sunset Zones

David Consolvo fruitopia at firstva.com
Wed Dec 14 07:59:09 EST 2011

Thank you Martha and Stephen.  All the more reason to explore what growers in 
one's own region are doing.  Fruit growers tend to be quiet, not the self-promotion 
types, so they are hard to find.  After 23 years in one spot, I'm still discovering 
them in my area

That link didn't work for me, but by dropping the last part one can find all the 
zones.  Go to http://www.sunset.com/garden/climate-zones, scroll down and click 
on "See All in Climate Zones".

~David Consolvo
Hungrytown, Virginia

---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: "Stephen Sadler" <Docshiva at Docshiva.org>
Reply-To: North American Fruit Explorers <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date:  Sun, 11 Dec 2011 12:34:45 -0800

>You are absolutely right. USDA zones or other single factors do not imply
>that a plant that thrives in one place will survive another.
>An extremely useful tool, which I wouldn't mind at all if this group
>adopted, is the Sunset Climate Zones Map:
>It combines all those things you wrote about. 
>Sacramento, Sunset 14 
>moving to Charlotte, Sunset 32
>ZONE 14: Northern California's inland areas with some ocean influence
>Marine air moderates parts of Zone 14 that otherwise would be colder in
>winter and hotter in summer. The opening in Northern California's Coast
>Ranges created by San Francisco and San Pablo bays allows marine air to
>spill much farther inland. The same thing happens, but the penetration is
>not as deep, in the Salinas Valley. Zone 14 includes the cold-winter valley
>floors, canyons, and land troughs in the Coast Ranges from Santa Barbara
>County to Humboldt County. The milder-winter, marine-influenced areas in
>Zone 14 and the cold-winter inland valley within Zone 14 differ in humidity.
>For example, lowland parts of Contra Coasta County are more humid than
>Sacramento. Fruits that need winter chill do well here, as do shrubs needing
>summer heat (oleander, gardenia). Over a 20-year period, this area had lows
>ranging from 26 to 16º F (–3 to –9ºC). Weather records show all-time lows
>from 20 down to 11ºF (–7 to –12º C).
>ZONE 32. Interior Plains of Mid-Atlantic States; Chesapeake Bay,
>Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey
>Growing season: late Mar. to early Nov. Rain falls year-round (40" to 50"
>annually); winter lows (moving through the zone from south to north) are 30
>degrees to 20 degrees F/-1 degree to -7 degrees C. Humidity is less
>oppressive here than in Zone 31.
>We also have a home in Sunset 1A. The plant variety is much more limited
>than the USDA zone would imply.
>Zone 1A: Coldest mountain and intermountain areas of the contiguous states
>and Southwestern British Columbia
>Marked by a short growing season and relatively mild summer temperatures,
>Zone 1A includes the coldest regions west of the Rockies, excluding Alaska,
>and a few patches of cold country east of the Great Divide. The mild days
>and chilly nights during the growing season extend the bloom of summer
>perennials like columbines and Shasta daisies. If your garden gets reliable
>snow cover (which insulates plants), you’ll be able to grow perennials
>listed for some of the milder zones. In years when snow comes late or leaves
>early, protect plants with a 5- or 6-inch layer of organic mulch. Along with
>hardy evergreen conifers, tough deciduous trees and shrubs form the garden’s
>backbone. Gardeners can plant warm-season vegetables as long as they are
>short-season varieties. To further assure success, grow vegetables from
>seedlings you start yourself or buy from a nursery or garden center. Winter
>lows average in the 0 to 11°F (–18 to –12°C) range; extremes range from –25
>to –50°F (–32 to –46°C). The growing season is 50 to 100 days.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
>[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Martha Davis
>Sent: Sunday, December 11, 2011 11:02 AM
>To: nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
>Subject: Re: [NAFEX] USDA Zones chill hours & heat etc
>Hi all,
>I hope I don't sound like I'm ranting too much.  Mostly I'm trying to
>facilitate clear communication.
>Minimum temperatures, which is the USDA zone basis, are different from
>chill hours, and both are different than amount of summer heat (growing
>degree days) which is different than summer maximums.  In some parts of the
>country (I think low elevation midwest and east) they all move together,
>but not in others, typically a lot of the west.  For some fruits it appears
>that strong sun can substitute for summer heat, but probably not always. I
>live where my average minimum temp is somewhere in the 0 to -10 range right
>on the edge of zone 5/6, that really only says something about cold
>hardiness, nothing about how much chill hours I want or get or how much
>heat. I want trees with a high chill requirement (hours between 32-45 F)
>ideally around a thousand because we get erratic winter warmups and it is
>easy to satisfy low chill requirements with a week of weather in 35-70 F
>temp range in February before it drops down to the teens & lower and then
>bounces up enough to start bloom and down some more.  Even though I am at
>the border of 5/6, because we cool into the 50ties on a lot of summer
>nights I still don't get enough heating degree day units to grow most
>tomatoes well, which has implications for many fruit crops. If you can
>distinguish between all these things in your experience or your reference
>it is helpful to be more specific. It may also help when you move to a new
>climate area especially without experienced people around.  There are
>reasonable chill hour maps on line, and some heat zone maps (based on
>summer maxs) the degree day ones are harder to find because they are often
>crop specific.  Just knowing whether it cools off much on summer nights is
>useful.  Min max thermometers are always good, it can be very educational
>to look at your minimums for summer nights depending on where you are.
> Just looking at USDA Zones and American Horticultural Society heat zones
>Chicago looks a lot like high elevation NM. The winter mins and summer maxs
>are fairly similar.  When you look at variation in winter temps, desirable
>chill hours and growing degree days, or even just summer minimums they are
>different worlds and the plants know it.  It has been a real education
>moving here.  I look to Maine and western Oregon to get variety ideas
>regarding tolerance for low growing degree days, IL for season length, and
>winter minimums, and experimenting for a lot of other things.
>Martha  Davis
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