The paulownia trees from the first plantations in Serbia might end up in the European market in a few years. As eKapija learns, western European companies are interested in the tree, which has been compared to magic beans, as it can be used as an intermediary product in the furniture industry.
Ever since the appearance of hybrids which can thrive in this area, marked by great oscillations in temperature, an estimated 1,000 people in Serbia have planted saplings of this fast growing tree on areas ranging from 0.2 ha to 7-8 ha.
Planters gathered in the Planto association
, founded in 2013, have 150-200 hectares in Serbia. Their mutual goal is to export the goods.
– The trees are used in the industry after 7 to 10 years, depending on the quality. If the growth trend continues, and if trees are taken care of, the first plantations will be ready for cutting down in 5 years – says Zeljko Spasojevic of Planto for eKapija and points out that wood industry companies have already contacted them.
As our interviewer explains, there is no market for paulownia in Serbia yet, but companies from Germany, Austria and Poland traditionally produce the tree, which is well known as an intermediary product in the furniture industry.
– A German company, producing bungalows and using 600,000 trees a year, is interested in paulownia from this area. They are looking for trunks with a circumference of 200-250 mm, which the trees reach in the fourth or fifth year of growth – Spasojevic emphasizes and adds that state institutions have also become involved and that 3,000 trees have been planted at the tailings pond of the Kostolac thermal power plant.
Planto produces hybrids for growing paulownia in cooperation with the Fruit Research Institute of Cacak, and the saplings are also exported to the EU. Last year, 70,000 saplings were shipped, and this year, almost 100,000 have been delivered. This is reliable, certified in vitro planting material, Spasojevic says.
– There are many ways for any plant, including paulownia, to reproduce. However, there is only one way to make a replica of the parent-plant, that is, to maintain all its characteristics. This can only be done by using in vitro technique, which requires special conditions and great expertise, as this is the only way to ensure getting trees with characteristics which make paulownia special in the first place – our interviewee points out and warns that semi-wild saplings, which grow more slowly and tend to bend, have appeared in the market.