Energy willow is one of the most promising bioenergy crops. It is undemanding to soil fertility, tolerant to significant fluctuations in weather and climate conditions, demonstrates high biological productivity and produce a high-quality energy biomass.
To assess the intensity of the growth and development of willow shoots of different varieties, the planting design, and plant density; to determine the capability to form a yield of wood biomass under the conditions of the Right-Bank Forest-Steppe of Ukraine.
The research was carried out in the experimental field of the Institute of Bioenergy Crops and Sugar Beet National Academy of Agricultural Sciences of Ukraine from 2015 to 2017. The soil for the experiment was typical leached loamy chernozem. Establishment, counting, and observations in the experiment were carried out in accordance with conventional methods.
The annual increment of young willow shoots varied significantly over the experiment years in terms of the factors under investigation. To illustrate, young plants of ‘Ternopilska’ variety reached an average of 216 cm increment in the first growing season (2015). In 2016, plant height increased significantly to 441 cm, with the annual growth of 104%. On the third year of vegetation, the average height amounted to 471 cm but the annual increment was only 30 cm. Young plants from cuttings of the ‘Tora’ variety had different growth dynamics. In the first growing year, their height averaged 251 cm (that was 16% more than in ‘Ternopilska’ variety), on the second year it reached 493 cm, and on the third year 569 cm. Thus, the average height of 3-year-old plants of ‘Tora’ variety exceeded the ‘Ternopilska’ variety by 98 cm (21%). In addition, ‘Tora’ demonstrated a significantly higher biomass yield.
Under the conditions of the Right-Bank Forest-Steppe, in the first three growing years, willow plants are capable of successful rooting, enlarging shoots and forming yield 22.8 to 27.6 ton of dry biomass. The efficiency of growing dry energy willow biomass is significantly affected by the biological characteristics of the planting material. Under identical growing conditions, ‘Tora’ variety exceeded ‘Ternopilska’ by 4.2 t/ha (21%) in terms of dry biomass yield.