- Balatinecz, John J.
Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.
- Kretschmann, David E.
USDA, Forest Service, Fores Products Laboratory, Madison, WI
- Leclercq, André
Centre de Recherche de la Nature, des Forêts et du Bios, Gembloux, Belgium
From an early status as a "weed tree," poplar has become an important commercial genus in North America during the past 20 years. The many and varied uses of poplar wood now include pulp and paper, lumber, veneer, plywood, composite panels, structural composite lumber, containers, pallets, furniture components, match splints and chopsticks. The high cellulose and relatively low lignin content make poplars well suited for pulp and paper products. The wood can be pulped by all commercial pulping methods, such as mechanical, semi-chemical, sulphate and sulphite processes. Poplar pulps are utilized in fine papers, tissues, paperboard, newsprint and packaging papers. Poplar kraft pulps, when blended with softwood kraft, are particularly well suited for fine paper manufacture because of inherently desirable properties, such as excellent sheet formation, high opacity, good bulk and good printability. While poplar wood continues to be an important raw material in the traditional lumber, veneer and plywood industries, the most remarkable recent achievement in poplar utilization is the phenomenal growth of the oriented strandboard and structural composite lumber industries in North America during the last decade. The future for poplar utilization is bright. On the resource production side, opportunities for genetically modifying important wood properties, such as chemical composition, fibre quality and natural durability of wood, can now be realized. On the resource utilization side, high-value engineered composites and high-yield pulp and paper products will represent the strongest growth sectors for poplar fibre during the coming decades.