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Growing Hybrid Poplars

Before planting Hybrid Poplars, make sure to consider the following land choices, preparation and moisture needs.

See a climate zone map
See planting instructions page

Choice Of Land

Site Selection Criteria
Soil Type PH
Loams of Soil 5.5 to 7.8
Slope Less than 8%
Flooding Avoid areas with summer flooding
Organic Matter 3% to 8%
Soil Water High holding capacity or shallow water table
Fertility Moderate to high levels of P and K
Hardpan Avoid soils with hardpan in rooting zone

This is very important. Hybrid poplars grow well on various soils. They grow much better in more fertile soils than in poor soils. Areas of high pH will reduce their growth and may kill them. A soil test is cheap insurance. pH over 8.0 is dangerous.

Hybrid Poplars attain best growth on deep, fertile, alluvial soils that have adequate moisture with capacity to hold it. Agricultural lands not currently suited or used for cultivated crops, such as in grass for hay or pasture are fine. Quality cropland also can be used. Methods are available to eliminate stumps and return the field to agriculture.

Land Preparation

Proper preparation of land is vital to ensure the best growth of your trees.

If pasture or grasslands are to be used it is best that you spray the existing growth with an appropriate herbicide. Loosen the soil by plowing, ripping, sub soiling and preparing for planting. This can be done at least 2 to 4 weeks after application of the herbicide.

Prior to planting the irrigation method that you are going to use the supplement the natural moisture should be determined. Proper moisture in the first year of growth is critical.

Spacing of the trees should be determined and marked to have the proper growing distance. If trees are to be harvested spacing can be done for the number of years old they will be at harvest.


Planting Spacing
Cutting Cycle (yrs) Spacing (feet)
1 to 3 2x4 to 4x4
4 to 5 6x6 to 5x10
6 to 7 8x8 to 7x10
8 to 9 9x9 to 10x12
10 to12 12x12 to 10x16
15 to 20+ 15x15 to 20x20

On fertile soils, including some old pastures, the nitrogen released from soil organic matter can be sufficient to carry the trees for several years without need for added fertilizer. A rate of 50 to 150 lbs of nitrogen per acre per year is the general rate applied if needed. This again can be found out when you take your initial soil test to se if the land is suitable. Treat the Poplars as you would a regular crop for best results.

Moisture Needs

Poplars should be planted in moist soil and properly irrigated, especially in the first year of planting, to help in the development of a good root system. Sites that maintain good moisture throughout the year are fine to minimize the need for further irrigation beyond year one. They can handle short term flooding if the water keeps moving and the water table drops below the soil surface before the trees leaf out in the spring. Best would be if the water table is 1.5 to 3 feet below soil surface. For ample and continued growth soil moisture should be monitored, and trees should not be stressed.

Weed Control

If weeds and grasses are not adequately controlled, they will cause Hybrid poplars to grow slowly and may kill them. This is especially true in the first year or two of growth. Herbicides can be used before planting and after. Check with your local supplier. They can also be cultivated in areas accessible to eliminate or minimize herbicide use. Depth should be kept to a minimum of 3 to 4 inches to protect root growth. As trees get older and shading occurs, weed growth is less.

See a climate zone map
See planting instructions page

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