Afforestation is the concept of planting trees on sites that were not previously under forest cover, or on sites that have been cleared of forest cover for at least 50 years. Generally, single species plantations are established for high quality wood production, but mixed-wood and irregular designs can also be planted.

Currently, our research conducted in Saskatchewan focuses on plantation production of fast-growing hardwood and softwood species, such as hybrid poplar, red pine, scots pine and larch.

Development of Hybrid Poplar Plantations for Additional Wood Source in Saskatchewan

Field trials of hybrid poplars exist in several regions of the province, the largest of which is located near Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. Research conducted on two sites, encompassing a total of 44 ha (~ 105 acres), is directed by a collaborative group representing the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon), University of British Columbia (Vancouver), Mistik Management (forest company, Meadow Lake), Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) Shelterbelt Centre (Agriculture Canada, Indian Head), PRT (tree seedling nursery, Prince Albert) and the cooperating landowners.

Successful plantations are highly dependent on proper establishment, and appropriate management in the early years is critical. The field trials are designed to assess and compare various silvicultural (tree management) practices that have generally been regarded to enhance the growth of hybrid poplars. These practices include: 1) the type of tree stock used in plantation establishment, 2) the application (both rate and frequency) of fertilizer, 3) pruning secondary trunks and lower branches from the trees, and 4) weed control.

Below are the hybrid poplar research projects conducted by the Saskatchewan northern woody crops working group.

  • Natural Science and Engineering Resource Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Grant
    • Establishing hybrid poplar stock types on agricultural land**
  • Forest Development Fund (FDF)
    • Enhancing hybrid poplar growth by nitrogen fertilization**
    • Effects of spacing on the growth of hybrid poplar*


Development of Hybrid Poplar Plantations for Additional Wood Source in Saskatchewan

Fast-growing woody crop development in Saskatchewan includes not only hybrid poplar, but also softwood species, namely Scots pine, Red pine, and Siberian larch. The basis of this research project is to determine the establishment and growth potential of the aforementioned softwood species on agricultural land in the parkland and boreal transition ecoregions of Saskatchewan. The foreseeable benefits from the development of fast-growing softwood plantations are greater farm income diversification, satisfaction of forest industry demands and increased potential for value-added products, and environmental benefits through enhanced biodiversity on the agricultural landscape.

The year 2005 will see the establishment of three conifer research plantations located near the communities of Meadow Lake, Prince Albert and Hudson Bay. An additional Eurasian larch seed source trial will be established adjacent to the conifer growth trial at Prince Albert.