Hybrid poplar plantation establishment in Saskatchewan: first year results
Van Rees, K.C.J.
The production of Short-Rotation Woody Crops (SRWC) has been growing steadily throughout North America. In Saskatchewan, interest is focused on developing hybrid poplar (var. ‘Walker’) plantations for an expanding fibre industry, and as a means to diversify farm income and possibly to increase sequestered carbon. Preliminary results from a small 6 year-old plantation suggest that there is good potential for operational-scale hybrid poplar production over a 15 to 20 year rotation period. Larger-scale field trials were established in the spring of 2002 on two sites in the Meadow Lake region, to assess and compare select silvicultural practices that are regarded to enhance the growth of hybrid poplars. After one growing season, both types of rooted stock (cuttings and plugs) showed superior survivability (~92 %) compared to non-rooted cuttings (~40 %), underscoring the reduced risk in planting rooted stock, especially during dry years. Measurements of tree growth (tree height, stem volume, total plant biomass and root production) all indicated a noticeable advantage of rooted versus non-rooted stock. Observational data pointed to the necessity of thorough site preparation, adherence to proper planting techniques, and mechanical or chemical weed control for successful plantation establishment.
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