Birch-Poplar hybrid trees

Discussion in 'Forestry' started by candor, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. candor

    candor Moderator/IT Guy

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    I'm interested in getting a few of Birch-Poplar hybrid trees to try out for burning in the stove. They grow quick and appear to give reasonable heat output (15-17 btu) for the speed they grow at. I'm aware they may take a while to season but that's ok.

    Does anybody have experience with these? What are the best ones to go for and where would I get them? Happy to grow from seed too. I tried contacting a supplier in the south midlands but haven't been able to get in touch.
     
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  2. muckymanor

    muckymanor Well-Known Member

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    Can't be of much help to you on the Birch-Poplar hybrids, but I have a keen interest in fast growing firewood for fuel. I have a half an acre of willow planted in a cut away bog of ours since 2010 and in the next 2 years I should be able to thin it out a bit. After that it should produce 50% to 75% of what I need annually to keep the gasifier going. The rest will come from willow hedges on the farm and the odd big ash tree that will be felled. In fact, farm willow hedges have fueled the house for the last 6 winters - although they are in less supply now.

    My half acre was planted using willow cuttings from the farm hedges - no point in bring in a non native willow when the ideal tree for the soil and growing conditions.

    There's a lad not far from here and he came to look at my boiler and indeed installed a similar one himself. He has 1.5 acres of heavy wet soil planted with a mix of alder and willow since 2010. They are doing quite well and he will soon be at the stage where he will be thinning out some of it too.

    None so Hardy offer really good advice on tree types for particular soils.

    http://nonesohardy.ie/
     
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  3. candor

    candor Moderator/IT Guy

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    Interesting, how long does the willow take to season? I've heard it's quite fast growing alright, also interested to try a bit. You wouldn't know where I'd get a bit of willow would you... :whistle:`

    We have alder growing at my parents place, quite good to burn when seasoned right, easily split too. I have a few seedlings I'm growing to stick in once we get our own place. The only thing about alder is it doesn't stick up to being left outside after being cut, it goes to mush if not seasoned under cover.
     
  4. muckymanor

    muckymanor Well-Known Member

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    I sent willow cuttings to one of the members here in the past. He was delighted with them and planted them out to grow. When I enquired off him a few months later how they were doing, he told me that they all grew leaves but unfortunately when he let his sheep out, they decided that the willow leaves were better tasting than his grass!

    Willow dries quite fast - you'd be cutting it when it's 3 to 4 inches in diameter. This means fast drying and no splitting with the axe. It will be seasoned in 2 months if stored in a shed. If you let willow grow too strong, it becomes soft like cardboard when it dries out, it's hard to split and it doesn't burn well.
     
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  5. candor

    candor Moderator/IT Guy

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    I'll be in touch, I'll try and keep the sheep away :smile:

    Good to know, sounds good to me.
     
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  6. muckymanor

    muckymanor Well-Known Member

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    20170107_153014.jpg @candor even if they never grow you will warm yourself while planting them. Over 200 slips of different types in this.
     
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  7. jf 850

    jf 850 Well-Known Member

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    Is willow what we call a Sally?
    If so , I always found it burnt better if it had a bit of age to it.
    Both poplar and birch are very wet timbers . However if left to season for long , they will burn like a match.
     
  8. candor

    candor Moderator/IT Guy

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    Thanks a million @muckymanor, as you say they will keep me warm planting them!
     
  9. muckymanor

    muckymanor Well-Known Member

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    Yea it's sally. Burning it is all about timing. Dry too much and it burns too fast. Ideally have it arrives 20 to 30 % moisture.

    I find that it burns best when 4 to 6 inches in diameter. If you let it grow too old it becomes soft inside . It's hard to saw and burns poorly.

    Ideally you need a coppice rotation for it. Plant it and let it grow for 6 years and then thin it out a little bit for the next 3. By year 8 you will have good use able firewood. Cut it in March and you can burn it in September. Plant 1/16 of an acre every year for 8 years and after that the 1/2 acres will keep any house warm for 50 years.
     
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  10. Bog Man

    Bog Man Well-Known Member

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    Back in the late 70.s and early 80.s Oak Park did a project on renewable energy . Dr Michael Neenan was involved in it and they tried various types of Popular trees . When the project was discontinued he asked us could he use some of our land for growing populars . He got cuttings from Oak park and established a nursery . From this nursery we used to take cuttings about a foot long and an inch in diameter make bundles of ten and throw them in a pond for the winter . In the spring we would stick them in the ground and they would grow 3 foot in the year . After two years we would dig them up with a JCB and sell them as small trees for replanting .
    The nursery trees have grown into a Grove and you could have cuttings if you wanted .
     
  11. candor

    candor Moderator/IT Guy

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    Is it pure poplar or a hybrid? I'd be interested in a few cuttings if you have a chance.
     
  12. Treemover

    Treemover Well-Known Member

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    I'd recommend looking into native stuff or more mainstream. Poplar can get problematic with suckers (if grown too near buildings, lawns, neighbours- seen several court cases first hand).

    If you match species to your soil, you should get decent yields; but Syc and ash would be fast growing; especially ash. Look in the hedges and see what's doing well and getting big top heights.

    I'd also recommend hazel, often overlooked but can tie in well.

    As you have a stove; I'd also recommend some soft woods; anything really, Ss, Ns, Scots; larch etc; but match your soil.

    Alder is fast growing and fixes nitrogen, so is also ideal. I wouldn't go planting one species, but go for a mixture.
     
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  13. candor

    candor Moderator/IT Guy

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    Some very good points, this is small scale but have a mix, mostly alder, some ash and sycamore. Have some oak seedlings coming along but that's a more long term project.

    Find the alder quite good as a middle ground for firewood, quick growing but burns reasonably well at the same time. Having a bit of variety is no harm at all.
     
  14. Treemover

    Treemover Well-Known Member

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    Mixes are good, as it reduces chances of disease. Plus like cropping and arable it can mean you get higher yields compared to a pure stand.

    Matching the right tree to your soil is critical to achieving good yields.

    I could show you a spot only 20m wide where I planted pure ash and sycamore side by side on our farm and both are j rooting and not doing as well as their counterparts planted metres away.
     
  15. candor

    candor Moderator/IT Guy

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    What's the science around the different varieties helping against disease?

    I'd well believe it re soil type, much like any other plant too.
     
  16. Treemover

    Treemover Well-Known Member

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    Different species have different light requirements, that's why nurse crops such as larch, Scots are used with broad leaves.

    Pure crops are ok, but when I was in college; most hardwoods were a safe bet; now most species seem to have newly introduced diseases.

    Also it's far harder for predators or diseases to take hold in a mixed stand, as the different species slow down reproduction.
    The forestry commission in the U.K. Have some fantastic on line brochures.
    Try coford here also.
     
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