New Willowpedia fact sheets published in August 2015 describing the latest shrub willow cultivars commercialized for bioenergy in Larry Smart’s breeding program are now available on the Willowpedia website.
‘Fabius’ has been tested across a wide range of sites and is a consistent winner relative to other cultivars according to recent research by Ph.D. candidate Eric Fabio in Smart’s lab. It produced over 6 dry tons per acre per year in a trial in Middlebury, VT and has produced similar yields in trials in Geneva, NY.
‘Preble’ has been tested on a fewer number of sites, but it has also yielded over 6 dry tons per acre per year on Northeast sites. A US Plant Patent was issued for ‘Preble’ on June 10, 2014.
Both of these cultivars are in Diversity Group 8, which also includes ‘Tully Champion’, ‘Otisco’, and ‘Owasco’. It is strongly recommended that fields should be planted with cultivars from different diversity groups either in blocks or in random mixtures to slow the onset of disease and pest outbreaks and to capitalize on the ability of genetically diverse cultivars to excel in various microsites across a field.
The willow cultivar genetic diversity groups were recently revised by Smart’s lab when it became known that ‘SX61’ and its offspring, ‘Canastota’, ‘Marcy’, and ‘Sherburne’, should be classified as Salix miyabeana and placed in Diversity group 5.
This fact sheet also includes a table of relative susceptibilities of the current commercial cultivars to common pests and diseases. The fact sheets were authored by Ph.D. candidate Fred Gouker and Larry Smart and were partially supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant 2012-68005-19703 for the NEWBio Project from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.