Current issue: 53(4)
Under compilation: 54(1)
Hybrid aspen (Populus tremula L. × P. tremuloides Michx.) is a deciduous tree species suitable for producing large amounts of renewable biomass during short rotations. Its potential under North European conditions could be largely extended if not only agricultural land but also forest land was used for cultivation. Unfortunately, the knowledge of appropriate forest site conditions and effects of site preparation methods on hybrid aspen establishment is limited. In this paper, two studies that explore these questions are presented. In the first study, the sensitivity to acid soils was tested under greenhouse conditions in two type of soils: a) peat soil limed to certain pH levels (3.4–5.7) and b) collected forest soils where pH varied from 3.9 to 5.3. The lowest pH level resulted in reduced growth, elsewhere no significant differences were found. The second study was applied in the field and investigated the effect of four site preparation methods on survival and growth. The methods were: 1) control with no site preparation, 2) patch scarification, 3) mounding and 4) soil inversion. While no differences were found for survival, mounding was generally the method with the highest growth and patch scarification was least successful. The result was probably an effect of good soil aeration and less competition from vegetation after mounding. The field study also revealed clonal differences in growth performance, which stresses the importance of clone selection prior to planting. The results of these studies indicate that hybrid aspen is less sensitive to variation in pH and site preparation methods compared with other poplar species, as have been found in similar studies.
Fast-growing hybrids of Populus L. have an increasing importance as a source of renewable energy and as industrial wood. Nevertheless, the long-term sensitivity of Populus hybrids to weather conditions and hence to possible climatic hazards in Northern Europe have been insufficiently studied, likely due to the limited age of the trees (short rotation). In this study, the climatic sensitivity of ca. 65-year-old hybrid poplars (Populus balsamifera L. × P. laurifolia Ledeb.), growing at two sites in the western part of Latvia, and ca. 55-year-old hybrid aspens (Populus tremuloides Michx. × P. tremula L.), growing in the eastern part of Latvia, have been studied using classical dendrochronological techniques. The high-frequency variation of tree-ring width (TRW) of hybrid poplar from both sites was similar, but it differed from hybrid aspen due to the diverse parental species and geographic location of the stands. Nevertheless, some common tendencies in TRW were observed for both hybrids. Climatic factors influencing TRW were generally similar for both hybrids, but their composition differed. The strength of climate-TRW relationships was similar, but the hybrid poplar was affected by a higher number of climatic factors. Hybrid poplar was sensitive to factors related to water deficit in late summer in the previous and current years. Hybrid aspen was sensitive to conditions in the year of formation of tree-ring. Both hybrids also displayed a reaction to temperature during the dormant period. The observed climate-growth relationships suggest that increasing temperatures might burden the radial growth of the studied hybrids of Populus.
The aim of this study was to establish from the literature the purposes and for which aspen (Populus tremula L.) and related poplar species are used and can be used. According to the literature, numerous Populus species can be utilized in the industry with success instead of light softwood species in addition to them. The main emphasis is in the growing of large-sized timber, and there is no clear trend to changing to the short-rotation forestry of poplar. However, the utilization of the good sprouting properties of Populus species will probably increase as this regeneration method is cheap.
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