Today’s professionally bred willow hybrids have emerged as a smart choice for purpose-grown woody biomass. Key characteristics include:
Hardy – elite varieties of willow trees will grow on a wide range of soils, including on marginal land and areas subject to occasional flooding. This makes them ideally suited to underutilized crop land.
Low maintenance – willow plantations require little maintenance, including minimal fertilizer and pesticide application.
Cost-effective – once established, willow yields surprisingly low lifetime production costs.
Disease and pest resistant – today’s hybrids have been specially bred to increase resistance to pests and disease native to North America.
High success rate – willows are readily established by planting unrooted cuttings and have proven to be a reliable crop.
Easy to harvest – elite willow varieties are bred for upright growth to promote efficient harvesting. Once harvested, the willow plants do not need to be replanted – they grow right back.
High-yield, short-rotation – by matching varieties with local climate and soil conditions, willow crops can be established and harvested in two or three year rotations.
High quality energy – the quality and availability of traditional biomass sources, such as industrial and forest waste, is highly variable. Purpose-grown willow consistently delivers high-quality, carbon-neutral energy, making it a smart choice of fuel.
Long life span – willow crops typically provide consistent yields for 25 to 30 years.