Demand for planting elite shrub willows as a resource for industrial use such as bioenergy and pulp has been increasing in Jilin province in northeast China. Toward this end, 12 elite willow clones, representing various species and origins, were imported from New York, USA, and planted at Lushui River, Jilin province. Two indigenous species were included in the test as the controls for comparison. This study was an evaluation of their performance in adaptation, growth potential, and wood traits after one rotation (three growing seasons). Results indicated that (1) all clones, but one, showed a parallel phenology to the control, had excellent survival (> 86%) and displayed good frost resistance; (2) compared to the control, most imported clones were comparable in main stem growth (height and diameter), but developed more stems and main roots; and (3) most imported clones had similar lignin, but higher cellulose content relative to the control. These results imply that some of the imported clones should be considered for further evaluation as good sources for both bioenergy and pulping. Based on cluster analysis, six clones were recommended for the upcoming scale-up site-clone trials for yield evaluation.
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