Potential profitability zones for Populus spp.biomass plantings in the eastern United States
Short rotation woody crops (SRWCs) are key renewable feedstocks for the emerging bioeconomy. A critical step in developing a bioeconomy is defining suitable regions for commercial SRWC activities. The goal of this study was to estimate the obtainable yield in mean annual increment and economic returns on investment for Populus deltoides and Populus hybrids for the 33 eastern states using the 3PG model (Physiological Principles Predicting Growth). Yields ranged from 0.5 to 11.9 oven-dry tons (ODT) ac-1yr-1 with a mean of 3.9 ODT ac-1yr-1. Spatially, southern Illinois, Louisiana, Indiana, and central Missouri have the highest yield production. Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Virginia, as well as other southern regions of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina, have the lowest potential yield production. Land expectation values of P. deltoides ranged from -$1,369.12 to $1556.14/ac. The median internal rate of return (IRR) for the northern states was 2.0%, with a range of 13.9% to 14.6%. Spatially explicit potential profitability zones are useful as a coarse filter for evaluating sites for bioenergy projects that are under construction, in operation, proposed, or where due diligence is required.