Coppicing evaluation of short rotation coppice in the southeast of the U.S. to determine appropriate harvesting methods.
Renewable fuels are being tested as an alternative for fossil fuels. For the Southeast U.S., the use of woody biomass has proven to be an excellent source of renewable energy in terms of cost benefit and availability. Short rotation woody crops (SRWC) are timber plantations with exclusive characteristics that can meet the intensive demand for wood due to their fast growth and ability to coppice. Generally, SRWC require more maintenance than other popular woody crops, which might increase the cost of establishment for each new cycle of rotations. However,due to their coppicing ability, the same plantation may be harvested up to 5 times with no need of establishing a new one, which decreases costs. There are still uncertainties related to the best silviculture treatments at the harvesting stage and after the re-sprouting period in terms of optimizing the volume and vigor of SRWC stands. The species used in this experiment were Eucalypt (Eucalyptus urograndis) (Florida) and Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) (Arkansas). Plots were established in both locations and harvested in different seasons (summer and winter), and were revisited six months, and two years after harvesting to investigate re-growth and sprouting development. This study aims to explore the growth behavior of 2-year-old SRWC species by inspecting biomass gain over time, stem formation (stem crowding & dispersion), and mortality rates, in order to improve methods for harvesting multi-stem coppice stands.