Once you have got you paulownia trees planted into the field, you will need to know what to do next. This page is to help you get started in your paulownia farming adventure on the proper footing. If new to paulownia, the best advice I can give you is to start off with a small plot! The best teacher is experience and the best way to learn is from mistakes made. This type of learning is best made on a small scale rather than a large scale. Once comfortable on a small scale, you can go to what ever size project you wish. Please start off with 1 to no more than 3 acres of paulownia. If you choose to grow it fast (which you should) plant with a spacing between 9 and 10 meters apart.
As in most farming, it is strongly recommended to have access to a tractor and its 3 point hitch attachments such as plows, sprayers, tillers, mowers, etc.
Site selection is the most important part of the entire process of growing a productive plantation! Paulownia can live on most any type of soil that is well drained. However, you do not want is to just survival, you want it to thrive! I have planted paulownia where they have live but not thrived. In fact, neighboring oak trees have had a faster growth rate because the site was not best suit for the fertility paulownia requires.
The site needs to be well drained, deep soils that have a high capacity to hold moisture. The soil should have less that 25% clay. The best test for clay is to use the ribbon test. Take a small portion on soil at about the 12" depth and place into your hand. With the thumb and index finger, press the sample between the two and roll it out. It the sample crumples out, that is wonderful. If it make a ribbon, it may be have too much clay content and will limit growth.
The other factor to look for in your site is soil depth. The tree can not perform if the root system that feeds it is restricted! There should be no hard pans, shallow solid rocks, or other restriction to prevent full root development. When planting, loosen the soil as much as possible, as deep as possible to allow the seedling to develop a good root system. I prefer a chisel plow that has been used in opposite directions. I get it down to about 2 feet deep. Where the plow intersects at 90°, that is where the seedlings/cuttings are planted.
For paulownia to grow fast, it needs all the growth factors, water, sunlight, and fertilizer. If one is limited, the tree will not grow to it's full potential. Of these three factors, water can be most easily over done. Remember,paulownia must have well drain soils or it will die to soil fungal diseases. Over watering has the same effect as planting on poorly drain soils. Do not water more then once per week or you might kill the seedling!
Sunlight.... paulownia needs full 100% sunlight. No shading anywhere. The tree's canopy needs to always be high above any other near by plant. That is why weed control is so important. For young seedlings, if the weeds are much above ground level, they will create too much shading and the young paulownia seeding will again, fall short of it's growth potential. If the weeds get above the seedling, the weeds will kill the seedling. Paulownia needs full sunlight!
Plant food... of the big 3 elements of fertilize, nitrogen, and post ash, nitrogen is the only one I am concern with. I use ammonia nitrate 30/0/0. I apply it around the tree just pass the outer rim of foliage. I use enough ammonia nitrate to kill the weeds it comes in contact with. I have never kill a paulownia tree using this method. They just turn deep, dark green. They seems to think it is candy and always want more. I will not fertilize past July for too much growth during the late season may lead to improper harding off and make the trees prone to winter sun scald damage.
As mention earlier, you got to keep the trees above the weeds. Effective weed control methods include tilling, mowing, and the use of herbicides. The trees need to be checked at least every 2 weeks to see if you have adequate weed control. I use a combination of all three with mowing being my mid to late season method. Herbicides are listed elsewhere on my site. Princep Roundup Poast Prow
Insect control in very important for paulownia to reach is full potential. Young paulownia trees are very tender and succulent plants that are high in sugar content. Because of this, insects have found paulownia to be an easy meal! I have found sting bugs, worms, grass hoppers, Japanese beetles, June bugs, mites, nat, and others to enjoy a easy, free meal. Insects are such a problem in my area that I must spray every 7 to 10 days to keep the insects under control. Else wise, the insects will limit paulownia's growth or worst even kill the trees.
Fungi control mainly applies for green house seedlings when first set out in the spring of the year. Root cuttings seem to be more resistant to fungi attack and fungicide is not as necessary. For green house seedlings, such as those raised from seed, they need to be treated with Infuse until they have become established.
I can not cover all issues that may arise. This page is to help you get start properly. If other issues arise that are not covered here, please use my online services.