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USDA Announces New Hardiness Zone Map Visit the new USDA Hardiness Map Gardeners rely on the USDA Hardiness Zones to know which plants will survive the winter in their garden. These zones are based on the average minimum temperature of an area, which , in layman’s terms, is the lowest temperature of the year averaged out over about 30 years. The USDA released the first revised map since its last version in 1990 on January 25, 2012. Not only are the zones updated, but new online resources allow you to zoom into your neighborhood on an interactive map and allows for GIS (Graphic Information Systems) use for computer modeling and more.