Ear-colonizing insects and diseases that reduce yield and impose health threats by mycotoxin contaminations in the grain, are critical impediments for corn (Zea mays L.) production in the southern United States. Ten germplasm lines from the Germplasm Enhancement of Maize (GEM) Program in Ames, IA, and Raleigh, NC, and 10 lines (derived from GEM germplasm) from the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in Lubbock, TX, were examined in 2007 and 2008 with local resistant and susceptible controls. Four types of insect damage and smut disease (Ustilago maydis) infection, as well as gene × environment (G × E) interaction, was assessed on corn ears under field conditions. Insect damage on corn ears was further separated as cob and kernel damage. Cob penetration rating was used to assess corn earworm [Helicoverpa zea (Boddie)] and fall armyworm [Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith)] feeding on corn cobs, whereas kernel damage was assessed using three parameters: 1) percentage of kernels discolored by stink bugs (i.e., brown stink bug [Euschistus servus (Say)], southern green stink bug [Nezara viridula (L.)], and green stink bug [Chinavia (Acrosternum) hilare (Say)]; 2) percentage of maize weevil (Sitophilus zeamais Motschulsky)—damaged kernels; and 3) percentage of kernels damaged by sap beetle (Carpophilus spp.), “chocolate milkworm” (Moodna spp.), and pink scavenger caterpillar [Pyroderces (Anatrachyntis) rileyi (Walsingham)]. The smut infection rates on ears, tassels, and nodes also were assessed. Ear protection traits (i.e., husk tightness and extension) in relation to insect damage and smut infection also were examined. Significant differences in insect damage, smut infection, and husk protection traits were detected among the germplasm lines. Three of the 20 germplasm lines were identified as being multiple insect and smut resistant. Of the three lines, entries 5 and 7 were derived from DKXL370, which was developed using corn germplasm from Brazil, whereas entry 14 was derived from CUBA117.
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Vol. 105 • No. 4