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Can these trees be Poplar as bioenergy feedstock?

Researchers at Clemson University and commercial forestry business ArborGen are to jointly study the potential use of poplar trees for bioenergy and biofuels feedstock in the US.

The South Carolina-based project will see the pair plant thousands of poplar trees on-site at the university’s Pee Dee Centre.

ArborGen's southeastern field research manager David Brown says that positive results from this study would give landowners another market for their crops.

‘Clemson’s Pee Dee Centre plays a vital role developing bioenergy markets by growing a variety of bioenergy feedstock,’ Brown adds. ‘In the case of this project, we are working to determine the absolute best tree for bioenergy and have it available to South Carolina forest landowners.’

He explains that four species of poplar were planted a year ago and ‘are now over 20ft tall and showing some great promise’.

Brown and Clemson crop physiologist Jim Frederick also planted 690 varieties of Populus nigra last month – also known as the black poplar – as they continue to learn which varieties are best suited as both bioenergy stock and as base for making hybrids with P. deltoides, the local eastern cottonwood that grows in the US.

‘Interest in bioenergy as a whole is the basis for the partnership,’ says Frederick. ‘There’s no big grant involved — just two groups working together for a common cause.’