When you coppice (cut off close to the ground) the willow plants they will throw long, straight rods without any branching, ideal for weaving and other willow works. Here is my first row of Salix 'Americana' with one year old rods after it's second year in the field.
I just harvested those yesterday and they delivered between 5 and 21 rods per plant, each rod being 120-180 cm in length.
When the willows are planted close together the shoots are competing for the sun and thus forced upwards. The first year after planting in the spring the number of shoots are limited and often they are quite branched too - that differs a lot depending of the variety. Over the next few years the rods will increase in both number and length and there will typically be less branching as well.
You can see the base of some of my 'Americana' here. Next year I should be able to harvest more and longer rods.This year I cut my willows by hand with shears as I only have a small field. Now it looks like this. I'll be looking out for new shoots soon!!
More to come about my harvest soon!