Hybrid Poplar is a woody tree grown for it biomass and lumber products. Easy propagation is by planting small cuttings taken from trimmed small branches. It can be grown for one year then cut to stimulate multiple stems then harvested after three or more additional years of growth. Midwestern yields have been in the 15 tons per acre range after three years growth.
A healthy, harvest-ready stand of hybrid poplar can yield four to 10 tons of biomass per acre annually. Each tree is capable of growing more than 60 feet in six seasons, with little maintenance beyond the first planting year.
What are the Primary Commercial Uses of Hybrid Poplar?
Pulpwood: There is an increasing need for aspen for the production of wood products in the Lake States. Hybrid poplar may be substituted here.
Engineered Lumber Products: Hybrid poplar can be used in the process of making oriented strand board and, possibly, structural lumber.
Energy: Burning wood does not increase atmospheric carbon monoxide(CO). The hybrid poplar absorbs as much CO over its lifetime as is given off in burning so it “mitigates” amount of CO given off.
What are Alternative Uses of Hybrid Poplar?
Hybrid poplar is extremely beneficial in ways not directly profitable. Property owners can stabilize stream banks and agricultural lands by planting and encouraging hybrid poplar growth. Windbreaks of poplar have protected fields in Europe for centuries. In addition to protecting soil from wind erosion the windbreaks protect livestock and humans from cold winds and increase wildlife habitat and aesthetics.
Poplars show promise as a feedstock for biofuels. The trees are fast growing and able to produce large quantities of biomass in a short amount of time, easy to propagate and cultivate, and can grow in many regions. Poplar wood can also be easily and sustainably converted into liquid transportation fuels
Phytoremediation and the Hybrid Poplar
In addition to the above values of hybrid poplar, it makes an excellent “phytoremediator”. Willows and hybrid poplar have the ability to take up harmful waste products and lock them away in their woody stems. Municipal and corporate institutions are becoming more and more encouraged by new research showing the benefits of planting hybrid poplar to naturally clean up toxic waste.