, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 533-546
Date: 31 Oct 2012

Yield and Woody Biomass Traits of Novel Shrub Willow Hybrids at Two Contrasting Sites

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Shrub willow has great potential as a dedicated bioenergy crop, but commercialization and adoption by growers and end-users will depend upon the identification and selection of high-yielding cultivars with biomass chemistry and quality amenable to conversion to biofuels and bioenergy. In this study, critical traits for biomass production were evaluated among new genotypes of shrub willow produced through hybrid breeding. This study assessed the variation in yield, pest and disease resistance, biomass composition, and wood density in shrub willow, as well as the impact of genotypic and environmental factors on these particular phenotypes. Analysis of clonal genotypes established on two contrasting sites in New York State, Tully and Belleville, showed statistical differences by site for all of the traits. The greatest yield was observed at Belleville, NY, for two cultivars, ‘Fish Creek’ (41 Mg ha−1) and ‘Onondaga’ (40 Mg ha−1). Yields of Salix eriocephala genotypes were lowest, and they displayed susceptibility to rust and beetle damage. Variation in cellulose content in the stem biomass was controlled by environmental factors, with the majority of the genotypes displaying greater cellulose content at Belleville compared with Tully. In contrast, wood density was significantly greater at Tully than Belleville, and cellulose content was correlated with wood density. There were no significant correlations between biomass yield and density or any of the composition traits. These trials demonstrate that new genotypes produce improved yield and pest and disease resistance, with diverse compositional traits that can be matched with conversion technologies.