Poplar and shrub willow energy crops in the United States: field trial results from the multiyear regional feedstock partnership and yield potential maps based on the PRISM-ELM model

Timothy A. Volk, Bill Berguson, Christopher Daly, Michael D. Halbleib, Raymond Miller, Timothy G. Rials, Lawrence P. Abrahamson, Dan Buchman, Marylin Buford, Michael W. Cunningham, Mark Eisenbies, Eric S. Fabio, Karl Hallen, Justin Heavey, Gregg A Johnson, Yulia A. Kuzovkina, Bo Liu, Bernard G McMahon, Randy Rousseau, Shun ShiRichard Shuren, Lawrence B. Smart, Glen Stanosz, Brain Stanton, Bryce Stokes, Jeff Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


To increase the understanding of poplar and willow perennial woody crops and facilitate their deployment for the production of biofuels, bioproducts, and bioenergy, there is a need for broadscale yield maps. For national analysis of woody and herbaceous crops production potential, biomass feedstock yield maps should be developed using a common framework. This study developed willow and poplar potential yield maps by combining data from a network of willow and poplar field trials and the modeling power of PRISM-ELM. Yields of the top three willow cultivars across 17 sites ranged from 3.60 to 14.6 Mg ha−1 yr−1 dry weight, while the yields from 17 poplar trials ranged from 7.5 to 15.2 Mg ha−1 yr−1. Relationships between the environmental suitability estimates from the PRISM-ELM model and results from field trials had an R2 of 0.60 for poplar and 0.81 for willow. The resulting potential yield maps reflected the range of poplar and willow yields that have been reported in the literature. Poplar covered a larger geographic range than willow, which likely reflects the poplar breeding efforts that have occurred for many more decades using genotypes from a broader range of environments than willow. While the field trial data sets used to develop these models represent the most complete information at the time, there is a need to expand and improve the model by monitoring trials over multiple cutting cycles and across a broader range of environmental gradients. Despite some limitations, the results of these models represent a dramatic improvement in projections of potential yield of poplar and willow crops across the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-751
Number of pages17
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
*SG indicates trials that were supported by the Sun Grant Regional Feedstock Partnership.

Funding Information:
Essential funding to maintain and monitor willow and poplar plots over the past several years was provided by the North Central Regional Sun Grant Center at South Dakota State University through a grant provided by the US Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office under award number DE-FC36-05GO85041. Additional funding to support the establishment and monitoring of earlier trials in NY was provided by and the USDA AFRI and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Support for the trial in MN was provided by Southern Research and Outreach Station at the University of Minnesota. Middlebury College provided support for the trial in Middlebury, VT. L.P. Abrahamson, L.B. Smart, and T.A. Volk are a co-inventors on the patents for the following willow cultivars that are included in some of these trials: Tully Champion (US PP 17,946), Fish Creek (US PP 17,710), Millbrook (US PP 17,646), Oneida (US PP 17,682), Otisco (US PP 17,997), Canastota (US PP 17,724), Owasco (US PP 17,845), and Preble (US PP 24,537).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors. GCB Bioenergy Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Populus
  • Salix
  • short cutting cycle intensive culture
  • short-rotation woody crops


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