I just got a free load of willow wood chips. Is there any special handling recommendations? I am thinking the natural rooting hormone that is part of the wood.
I already have a lot of compost going and am thinking of using this to control weed growth around trees and plants.
Plant a seed and see if it grows. Some seeds do not grow well but others grow beyond your expectations.
I'll be curious to see if you get a lot of those chips growing into trees. I know that willow easily roots, but it's usually a stick stuck into the ground that sprouts into a tree. Chips just laying on top of the soil? Probably not.
My hunch is that carbon is carbon: just lay the chips down on the ground like you would any other mulch and it'll do it's thing as the microbes and fungi go to work digesting them.
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama), Zone 7B
For wood to regrow the bark still needs to be around it. If your wood has been through a shredder that'll probably not be the case.
Hand-pruned willow... that would be a different story. Then I would expect lots of twigs and branches with the bark still around it and then in moist conditions it would continue growing.
But you're talking 'chips' so I don't think you have any worries at all. Willow being soft wood, it should decompose and become food for your plants relatively quickly.
Marco and J Grouwstra are correct about willow regrowth.
If you want to get some willow water for rooting purposes the chips would need to be fresh (as in just cut down and chipped the same day).
The rooting hormone is contained in the cambium layer so if that is missing or has dried out, you won't get good rooting liquid.