I had an email question I wish to share.
From my research so far, I gather that one of the ways to plant paulownia is by sowing it right onto the field in the fall. Apparently it then naturally sprouts in the spring and grows. That’s what I want to do on my five acres in the fall of 2012. Do you have experience with that kind of paulownia planting?
I have a very limited budget right now, so I’m looking for the most primitive technique to plant as much biomass as possible as cheaply as possible. After the first crop, I’ll reinvest into better techniques, but now I just want get this project off the ground.
Do you sell the right kind of seed for fall sowing right onto the field?
Do you know how the field must be prepared?
What kind of sprouting rate, growth rate and yield tate compared to other techniques could I expect?
How can I protect from animals? I don’t have the funds to put up a fence right now, I’ll do that after the first crop. I read that animals like to bite off the top of little paulownia which stops it from growing.
I understand your situation. I have also try some primitive techniques in years past with little success.
It is true that paulownia seed will sprout in nature without any aid from mankind. The problem in nature is:
1. Sprouting seedlings can tolerate absolutely no, I repeat, no weed competition at all. If they do, they will die.
2. Sprouting seedlings must be protected from bad weather. They are so tiny, and with so little root development, that any rain above a light mist for the first 4 to 6 weeks will uproot the seedlings. It is almost like someone put a cultivator to them. With medium to heavy rains, they will die.
3. Sprouting seeds must be exposed to sunlight to germinate. If they are covered with any soil, they will die.
4. Sprouting seeds must remain on top of moist soil for a total time of 10 to 20 days. It the temperatures are below 10 Celsius, it could take much longer. If the soil dries, so does the little emerging root hair, and they will die.
5. The soil must be lose or broken up to allow the tiny and week root hair to penetrate the soil. If the soil is hard, no penetration and they will die.
In nature, a paulownia tree over comes these problems by producing 10 to 500 million seed a year. High, strong winds can easily carry them miles away. The odds are good that a few seed will land at just the right location to become a tree. Reproduction success in nature happens when only one seed out of the 500,000,000 becomes a tree. I like better odds.
The type of seed used does not matter. Elongata, tomentosa, fortunei, and catalpafolia are all the same in the germination requirements. As for animal protection, it may not be a problem. In my area it is not significant enough to justify the cost of a fence. In other areas of the world, the animals maybe more hungry and be a major problem.
Your best bet is to plant root cuttings in the field. Germinate the seed in gas bromide beds where you can control the micro environment for the first year. Early spring of the next growing season, lift the seedlings, harvest the roots, and field plant.