Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Poplar Tree Farm and Sawmill

Date of Visit: August 16th, 2016
Type of Event: Study Tour
Poplar plantation
Organizations: GreenWood Resources and Collins 
Location: Boardman, OR
Lee Jimerson/ Product Manager at Collins Wood and Austin Himes/ Harvesting Manager at GreenWood
International Fellows:
Abiodun Solanke (Nigeria), Andrea Cornejo (Nicaragua), Karishmaa Pai (India), Samantha Kwan (Malaysia), Yu Lei (China), Ana de Miguel (Spain).

WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Chandalin Bennett/ Sr Programs Manager

Hybrid poplar tree farm
Boardman Tree farm was a 25,000 acres poplar plantation in eastern Oregon. This plantation, as other hybrid poplar (Populus ssp.) plantations, was established in the early 1990’s for the pulp and paper market. In 2007 GreenWood Resources purchased 17,000 acres of Boardman Tree farm and subsequently the rest of itSolid wood markets were developed due to the low prices of the wood-chipsThe poplar tree farm is a FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified plantation and the wood is marketed as Pacific Albus.

GreenWood Resources has conducted years of research on genetic improvement through controlled hybridization and clonal selection to increase: 
  • yields
  • quality 
  • diseases resistance  
The genetic improvement research was paired with silviculture research to find the best growing techniques and breeding program to provide improved material for the plantation.
Harvesting site, Boardman tree farm,OR

Polar at the Boardman farm was grown on a 10-12 years rotation bases and was used to produce lumber, veneer and pulp chips.

Collins has been processing the wood at a mill located in the middle of the plantation and then managing the lumber sales. Collins was able to improve the historically bad reputation of poplar in the lumber industry. Proof of it is that Pacific albus is now an industry desired lumber.
 Lumber production process:

  1. Trees are debarked
  2. Trees are scanned and bucked into logs
  3. Logs are scanned and cut into boards
  4. Boards are sorted and graded
  5. Boards are dried
  6. Boards are packaged for sale

Veneer sheets are also produced locally and the residues are used for pulp chips.  

WFI fellows visit poplar tree farm and lumber sawmill
Boardman, OR
However, the industry will need to find a different source as this plantation has been recently sold and it is in the process of becoming agriculture crops and diary.

GreenWood Resources manages other poplar farms and is currently involved in Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest (AHB) researching and developing ways to grow and convert hybrid poplars into bio-based chemicals and liquid biofuels.

International Fellow Reflections:
  • Higher value products than the pulp market and locally supplied are essential to develop short rotation forestry.
  • Breeding programs and sawmill optimization techniques are crucial to have an effective production.
  • Higher value and/or profit of the land for alternative uses can stop the development of short rotation forestry.
To learn more about the poplar lumber production process while having fun, watch this comedic video produced by David and Zach Barmon at the Boardman tree farm.

Ana de Miguel is a graduate student within the Shorfor Project at Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland. For further information contact her at ademiguel@worldforestry.org or after the end of the fellowship in November at anademimu@gmail.com.

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