Three month old Eucalyptus tree seedlings will be prepared for shipment in the coming days.
Introduction to Florida Eucalyptus Varieties
One of the fastest growing trees in the world, the Eucalyptus, can grow to nearly 50 feet tall in four years. Each tree can be harvested four to five times during its 20-year life span.
The growing region for the Eucalyptus Grandis (energywood) include North Central and South Florida with the exception of the Florida panhandle area.
A non-invasive species, the Eucalyptus is a hardy and versatile tree, making it a low maintenance alternative crop for Florida farmers. Eucalyptus wood is used for a variety of products, including paper, lumber plywood, veneer, flooring, charcoal, firewood, fiberboard, essential oils, and landscape mulch. It also may be used for biofuel, with whole-tree chips supplying char and oil that can be transported and stored. The chips also can supply noncondensed volatile oil and low-energy gas to be used onsite or nearby.
Eucalyptus compounds can protect against insects, vertebrate herbivores, ultraviolet radiation, and cold stress. Among these are the terpenoids that give Eucalyptus foliage its distinctive smell.
At present three different Eucalyptus species are grown in Florida. E. grandis (EG) and E.amplifolia (EA) are fast-growing trees used for bioremediation applications, energywood and mulchwood. Corymbia torelliana (CT) are grown as windbreaks throughout southern and central Florida.
Eucalyptus is a hardwood widely planted throughout Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. While the Eucalyptus is native to Australia, it grows in a variety of climates from the middle Carolinas south in the United States.
Eucalyptus trees were introduced in Southeastern United States in 1878 but not grown commercially in Florida until the late 1960s. Eucalyptus trees were introduced in Southeastern United States in 1878 but not grown commercially in Florida until the late 1960s. The Lykes Brothers of South Florida were widely credited with the first efforts to grow Eucalyptus trees for pulpwood production. In 1971 several other forestry companies provided essential support and acted as a driving force for commercialization of Florida’s Eucalyptus crop. During the 1980s three 100-year freezes nearly wiped out many Eucalyptus plantations in South Florida. Since that time new more cold-tolerant varieties have been developed and commercially grown throughout the Southeastern United States.
In the 1980s the University of Florida, US Department of Energy and The Gas Research Institute began conducting research on Eucalyptus for use in the bioenergy industry.
Why grow Eucalyptus Trees?
With increasing costs, growing concerns of carbon emissions, and increasing cost of fossil fuels Eucalyptus trees represent an enormous upside potential for growers in the bioenergy industry.
Mulchwood Market and Applications
The color, texture and durability of Eucalyptus mulch offers an eco-friendly and more favorable alternative to cypress mulch. At present Florida mulch -manufacturing plants produce 20 million cubic feet of mulchwood each year. Based on typical growth rates of the Florida Eucalyptus varieties about 50,000 acres of Eucalyptus plantations would be required to meet market demands.
Pulpwood Market and Applications
Eucalyptus trees have been grown in South Florida for many years for use in the pulp and paper industry. The Florida-grown varieties have very acceptable properties for pulp and papermaking industries. Demand and prices for Florida Eucalyptus varieties remain strong thoughout the Southestern United States. Improvements in biomass conversion at pulpmills and biorefineries will drive the demand up for Eucalyptus in the coming years. Factoring in transportation costs, Eucalyptus plantations located within close proximity of pulpmills afford growers an opportunity to maximize the return on investment.
Bioenergy Markets and Applications
One of the fastest growing and most promising areas include production of Eucalyptus energywood for electricity generation. Woody biomass also has a number of other potential uses including direct combustion, thermo-chemical gasification, methane production and alcohol production. As an added benefit, trees grown for energy applications may qualify for tax credits. The number of wood pellet plants and biomass -fueled utility plants proposed or currently under construction could significantly increase demand for Eucalyptus.
Bioremediation Market Applications
The rapid year-round growth of Florida Eucalyptus varieties and makes it suitable for bioremediation applications such as effluent from sewage treatment plants, stormwater run-off in urban and industrial areas and agricultural irrigation water. Plantings as small as two acres could be commercially harvested in three to four years. Eucalyptus growers could potentially benefit from wastewater recycling, increasing tree growth, recycling nutrients while simultaneously producing mulch, pulpwood or energywood. Eucalyptus has proven to serve as an effective “bridge crop” to convert or restore lands infested with invasive species such as congongrass to agricultural uses.
Eucalyptus and Corymbia Species for Pulpwood, Mulchwood, Energywood, Windbreaks, and/or Phytoremediation
Energy Product Options for Eucalyptus Species Grown as Short Rotation Woody Crops