For Immediate Release
Date: Nov. 16, 2001
Contact: Willie Riggs, Cooperative Extension Educator, (775) 237-5326,
email@example.com, or Jay Davison, Cooperative Extension Specialist, (775)
Note: Photos available upon request
Hybrid poplar trees may be a sustainable
resource for Nevada
By: Leslie Pearson, Rural Public Relations Assistant, (775) 784-7070,
RENO---Floods and dust storms have ravaged Nevada’s dry lands for years and
little relief has come to the weather-worn grounds. Trees are a remedy for the
problem, but have been a challenge to grow in Nevada's climate. The
northeastern and central high desert regions have not been able to sustain
quality tree production in the past. That is changing.
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Educator Willie Riggs and
Plant Sod Specialist Jay Davison have spent three years researching the
survivability of hybrid poplar trees as alternative crops in Eureka and Fallon, and
have found some success. The trees are currently being tested as supplements
or replacements for alfalfa crops as a source of income for farmers.
The project, Sustainable Agriculture Hybrid Trees in Nevada, began in
June 1998. Riggs and Davison planted 300 trees of three varieties in Eureka and
had a 99 percent success rate in the first year of growth. The trees averaged 53
inches of growth in their first year, but perished in the winter due to a perceived
lack of proper irrigation.
A year later, the researchers planted another 300 trees of three varieties
in Fallon at the university’s Newlands Center. The Fallon site has varieties that
have reached heights of over 20 feet in 18 months of growth and are surviving.
"There is great potential for these trees," Riggs said. "They are fast-
growing trees that may benefit farmers, ranchers and homeowners in both rural
and urban areas."
The poplar trees---hybrids of cottonwood trees---provide several benefits
to Nevada's dry land. In addition to serving as flood barriers and windbreakers,
the trees create shelter belts, reduce soil erosion and form snow fences and
Riggs developed the idea of testing hybrid poplars in Nevada after he had
success with them in eastern Oregon.
"In Oregon, with the spotted owl, there is less timber available for harvest,"
he said. "We needed to find something that we could grow rapidly and privately.
Poplar trees were the answer."
Poplar wood can be used in a variety of wood products. The trees can be
made into wood chips, paper pulp, peeler logs (used in door and cabinet
veneers) and furniture logs.
In addition, water treatment centers and dairy farms use the trees to
absorb wastewater produced by their industries.
"Wastewater can be used to irrigate the trees which absorb the sludge
well," Riggs said.
Realizing the potential of transferring the successful project from Oregon
to Nevada, Riggs spent some time researching the logistics of poplar trees in
"We need to find the right varieties of trees for each specific area," he
said. "It is necessary to factor in the temperature and elevation of each growing
The Fallon experiment is evidence that poplar trees can be grown
successfully in Nevada. In addition to being fast growing, the trees are cheap to
purchase and maintain. They cost 20 cents a piece when they are purchased as
“We need at least two more growing seasons in Fallon to determine if
production and survival will be adequate,” Davison said. “This experimentation is
a trial in progress, but we are happy with the results so far.”
Riggs and Davison want to spend more time researching the poplar trees
before recommending them to the public. Continuing research will focus on a full
cost benefits analysis of the trees and test sites in other areas of Nevada,
For more information on the poplar tree experiments, contact Riggs at
(775) 237-5326, or Davison at (775) 423-5121.