New Forests

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 519–534 | Cite as

Early stand production of hybrid poplar and white spruce in mixed and monospecific plantations in eastern Maine

  • A. S. NelsonEmail author
  • M. R. Saunders
  • R. G. Wagner
  • A. R. Weiskittel


Forest plantations in the northeastern United States comprise a small proportion of the total forest area. Most plantations are typically softwood dominated and managed for sawlog and pulpwood production, while high-yield hardwood plantations for bioenergy feedstocks have not been as widely investigated. The objective of this study was to compare the biomass production of planted white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) and hybrid poplar (Populus spp.) plantations (four clones) in monoculture, and in mixture of the two on a typical reforestation site in Maine. Three years following planting, hybrid poplar height and ground line diameter growth rates began to diverge among clones, and by 6 years, the Populus nigra × Populus maximowiczii (NM6) clone clearly outperformed three Populus deltoides × Populus nigra clones (D51, DN10 and DN70) both in pure stands and in mixtures with white spruce. In mixture, we found the yield of white spruce to decline as the yield of hybrid poplar increased. Overall, yields of white spruce monocultures were comparable to those reported in eastern Canada, while the hybrid poplar biomass yields were substantially lower than those reported from studies on abandoned agricultural lands, likely due to the harsher soil conditions at our site. The dominance of rocky and poorly drained sites (like the one tested in this study) across Maine will likely limit the feasibility of widespread hybrid poplar plantations, and thus constrains their potential use as a bioenergy feedstock.


Mixed-species plantations Biomass production Short-rotation hardwoods Bioenergy feedstock Harsh-site regeneration 



This project was funded by the Northeastern States Research Cooperative—Theme 3, the Cooperative Forestry Research Unit, and the Henry W. Saunders’ Chair at the University of Maine. The initial design and implementation of the experiment was funded by the Agenda 2020 Program of the US Forest Service. We would like to thank Keith Kanoti, Rick Dionne, John Brissette, Matthew Olson, and the numerous other people involved with the experiment over the years. In addition, we thank the Associate Editor and two reviewers for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. S. Nelson
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. R. Saunders
    • 2
  • R. G. Wagner
    • 1
  • A. R. Weiskittel
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Forest ResourcesUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forestry and Natural ResourcesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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