Experience With Hybrid Poplars -- Maryland

In the 70s, these trees were highly touted for their fast growth in any soil. The approximate estimated life was 50 years, far longer than the junky Lombardy poplar.
I personally planted 300-400, the best variety of which was the Androscoggin poplar. Within 10 years, they were 50-80 ft, and the Androscoggin had a wide crown and thick trunk to boot. Some autumns they yielded a bright, buttery leaf. You could break off a stem, stick it in the ground, and have a tree in no time. The only chore with this cloning method of propagation was that you had to keep weeds away for two years until they were established. If you planted one that already had roots, no weeding was needed.
OK, that was the good news. If you decide to go with hybrid pops, be aware that they eventually show thick protruding roots than can mess up mower blades. Of course, that's the case with lots of trees. But in 20-25 years, they come down. Sometimes the whole thing comes down in storms. More often, the top 1/3 of the trunk simply breaks off. It is dry and dead, while the rest of the tree is still filled with sap. Strange .. and ugly. This was especially true with the non-Androscoggin varieties.
Except for one humongous Androscoggin at the edge of the property, all have either come down on their own or I had them taken down. Got tired of cleaning up hybrid mess in the neighbor's field.
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snipped-for-privacy@home.net (Way Back Jack) says...

Why in the world did you plant them in the first place if you weren't going to harvest them for biomass? Planting hybrid poplar for landscaping is about like planting wheat for a lawn. It's just not going to work, and anybody should have told you that.
Sorry you wasted all that effort.
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On Wed, 22 Aug 2007 19:56:23 -0700, Larry Caldwell wrote:

Windbreak, riparian buffer, wildlife cover/food, stabilize waste areas, quick screens, and harvest for chipboard and pulp. My guess is that it's most used in the plains states. In the NorthEast, poplar is an early succession tree that will eventually be overtaken by other species.
Someone tried a few acres of hybrid poplars about a half-mile from me and they didn't make it through the first summer/winter.

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On Wed, 22 Aug 2007 19:56:23 -0700, Larry Caldwell

My goal was to create a forest from a cow pasture. I knew nothing about trees and believed the claims and advertising which were apparently supported by government testing. Books like Wyman's and Pirone's did not address hybrid popolars because they were apparently so new.
Live and learn.
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Jack wrote:

I planted a half dozen for a screen in a section of my lot also believing the advertising hype. My experience was the same except I created problem for new property owner as to what I thought was property line on vacant lot was over the line. Over 30 years in this house, I've been able to see what happens from planting seedlings to their maturity. I have several other trees that I wish I had not planted.
Frank
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On Thu, 23 Aug 2007 08:17:32 -0400, Frank

You and I share common experiences:
1) Hybrid poplar fiasco
2) Crossing property lines.
In my case, it was a neighbor who inadvertently planted 50 Eastern white pines on my property. This seemed great at first, as it contributed to the goal of changing a cow pasture into a forest. However, in my youthful ignorance, I overlooked the fact that many of them were planted directly under power lines that served my house and a few farms, but not her house. These trees played hell with the power lines.
When the tree guys took down the Androscoggins I also had them take down the pines. The neighbor was livid.
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says...

Why was he upset? They were your trees.
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On Thu, 23 Aug 2007 18:47:27 -0700, Larry Caldwell

Those trees were like her babies. Something to remember her husband by. She enjoyed the privacy screen that she and her late husband inadvertently planted on our property 30 years earlier. Hey, so did we.
But when those trees frequently knocked out electricity to our place and neighboring farms, she didn't care because it didn't affect her electricity.
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On Thu, 23 Aug 2007 11:15:31 +0000, Jack wrote:

Probably because poplars (hybrid or otherwise) aren't considered ornamental trees. Look for books/websites about naturalizing, native plants, and succession.

Beware of any government-promoted plant that is described as "quick growing", "wildlife food", etc. (Multiflora rose and Autumn Olive are two examples.) Translation is: "This is a weedy species that wildlife will spread all over your property."
At least where I live, cow pastures were generally on soil that wasn't good enough for field crops. I suggest contacting your County Ag-Extension Agent He/she will be able to suggest species that are right for your situation. (Caution: Think decades, not years.)
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I'm 63 and not thinking of decades.
Yes, the hybrid pops were a failure, but the 800 or red, sugar, and Norway maples; fast growing red oaks of various species; Austrian pines; and tuliptrees that I personally planted over an 8-year-period have been an unqualified success.
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On Thu, 23 Aug 2007 14:46:17 +0000, Jack wrote:

That's almost one decade. <g>
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Yes, when you're 28-36, you believe that you have centuries remaining. ;-)
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On Aug 22, 8:49 am, snipped-for-privacy@home.net (Way Back Jack) wrote:

I found you information to be most helpful. My husband and I have not had much success with poplars. They seem to need a certain soil. Living in Massachusetts the soil is rich. Thanks for your info. This is my first time here and spent a few moments realizing this is an informative place to share. Claire
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On Wed, 22 Aug 2007 12:49:24 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@home.net (Way Back Jack) wrote:

We have some that are ~25 years old that my Mom and Dad planted. Only knew them as Hybrid Poplars. They zoomed upward much as described. Now they are dying. They seem to be quite susceptible to some sort of canker (you will see a swollen spot that looks like there was once a branch there and bark will be missing) that attacks the trunk. On our trees this is usually 10 to 30 feet from the ground. It creates a weak spot in the tree and they are prone to snapping off at this point in high winds. If the wind don't get them the portion above the canker dies and eventually the whole tree follows suit. Then the wind will knock the whole tree over. These are all out in the field so they pose no danger other than crushing crabapples when they fall.
Any chance you have crabapple trees planted close by? Some of the Hybrid Poplars were planted with crabs and some in another area more by themselves. Those amongst the crabs faired the worst. The other group has much less problem with the cankers. Most likely just a coincidence...
It is interesting to hear that other people who planted these are having a similar experience.
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Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
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On Thu, 23 Aug 2007 15:36:31 -0400, Leon Fisk

You're probably right about it being a coincidence.
We had one crabby but he died long before the popsters showed any problems and it was far removed from them to boot.
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