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Effects of Propagule Phenology (Non-Dormant Versus Dormant) and Planting System (Vertical Versus Horizontal) on Growth Performance of Willow Clones Grown Under Different Weeding Regimes

Welc, Monika, Lundkvist, Anneli, Verwijst, Theo
BioEnergy research 2018 v.11 no.3 pp. 703-714
aboveground biomass, biomass production, clones, cold storage, crop-weed competition, field experimentation, growth performance, phenology, planting, spring, sprouting, weed control, willows, Sweden
To assess the effects of propagule phenology and planting system on growth performance of three willow clones grown under different weeding regimes, a field experiment was performed in central Sweden 2014–2016. Freshly harvested (non-dormant) and cold-stored (dormant) cuttings (planted vertically) and billets (planted horizontally) from willow clones Tordis, Tora, and Jorr were planted in weeded and in unweeded plots. Sprouting was significantly higher for willows grown from non-dormant (74%) than dormant (58%) propagules and for cuttings (84%) compared with billets (42%). Survival was higher for willows from non-dormant propagules in weeded (71%) compared with unweeded (63%) plots, willows from dormant propagules in weeded (72%) compared with unweeded (60%) plots, and for willows from cuttings (93%) compared with billets (39%). During 2014–2016, aboveground biomass production was significantly higher for willows from cuttings (11.71 t DW ha⁻¹) than from billets (6.13 t DW ha⁻¹), grown in weeded (15.29 t DW ha⁻¹) than in unweeded (2.55 t DW ha⁻¹) plots, and differed significantly among willow clones (11.48, 9.27, and 6.01 t DW ha⁻¹ for Tordis, Tora, and Jorr, respectively). In this study, (i) planting with cold-stored and freshly harvested willow propagules was equally successful and therefore cold storage could be potentially avoided and replaced with planting of freshly harvested propagules in early spring; however, (ii) in terms of measured growth performance parameters, willows grown from cuttings performed better than grown from billets; and (iii) weed competition significantly reduced survival and aboveground biomass production, confirming that weed control during establishment of willow is crucial.