Fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith), and corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), perennially cause leaf and ear damage to corn, Zea mays L., in the southeastern United States. Transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) hybrids with the Bt11, MON810, or 176 events expressing the Cry1Ab insecticidal endotoxin from were evaluated for control fall armyworm and corn earworm at seven locations in Georgia during 1999 and 2000. Corn was planted at the recommended time for each location and 1 and 2 mo later in the southern locations. All Bt events consistently reduced whorl infestation and damage, although event 176 did not prevent whorl damage in the later plantings in the southern locations in both years. All events also reduced seedling damage by the lesser cornstalk borer, Elasmopalpus lignosellus (Zeller), in one trial and stalk infestations and tunnel length by southwestern corn borers, Diatraea grandiosella Dyar, in another trial. Hybrids containing Bt11 and MON810 events reduced ear infestations in all trials, although reductions were small in later plantings. Nevertheless, both events reduced grain damage from earworms and armyworms by an average ± SE of 52.5 ± 5.1% in all trials. The hybrid containing event 176 did not reduce ear infestations and damage. Total grain aflatoxin concentrations were not significantly affected by Bt resistance in any trial (N = 17). Yield responses were variable with the prevention of yield loss being proportional to the severity of insect damage. Although plantings made after the recommended time did not consistently benefit from Bt resistance, Bt11 and MON810 events were effective in reducing damage to field corn when large infestations occurred. The Bt11 and MON810 events mitigated the risk of severe lepidopteran damage to corn, thereby making later plantings of corn feasible in double-cropping systems.
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Vol. 97 • No. 5