Hybrid Poplar in the Southeastern United States

Leslie Boby, Extension Associate, Southern Regional Extension Forestry; David R. Coyle, Extension Associate, Southern Regional Extension Forestry; William Hubbard, Southern Regional Extension Forester; and Connor McDonald, Student Intern, Southern Regional Extension Forester

Multiple Use, Forest Health, and Conservation Education

1606_SREF-BE-008.pdf — PDF document, 1148Kb

As the U.S. continues to explore alternatives to fossil fuels to fulfill its energy demands, biofuels have emerged as a promising option. Biofuels are created from converting the biomass of various plants and trees into liquid fuels, and can be used for many of the same applications as fossil fuels. Hybrid poplars are one potential feedstock, or plant cultivated specifically for use in biofuel production. Hybrid poplars can produce a large amount of biomass over relatively short rotations and can resprout from stumps after harvest. Hybrid poplars are bred from multiple tree species, including eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides), a tree native to the Southeast that also has high biomass productivity. In the Southeast, the focus of this fact sheet, several research trials have been conducted to ascertain the feasibility of hybrid poplar as a feedstock. These trials have shown promising biomass production levels, but hybrid poplar’s need for ample amounts of water and susceptibility to disease may reduce its viability for large-scale adoption.

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