Field tests in 2010–2011 were performed in New York, Minnesota, Maryland, Ohio, and Georgia to compare Bt sweet corn lines expressing Cry1A.105 Cry2Ab2 and Cry1Ab with their non-Bt isolines, with and without the use of foliar insecticides. The primary insect pest in all locations during the trial years was Heliocoverpa zea (Boddie), which is becoming the most serious insect pest of sweet corn in the United States. At harvest, the ears were measured for marketability according to fresh market and processing standards. For fresh market and processing, least squares regression showed significant effects of protein expression, state, and insecticide frequency. There was a significant effect of year for fresh market but not for processing. The model also showed significant effects of H. zea per ear by protein expression. Sweet corn containing two genes (Cry1A.105 Cry2Ab2) and a single gene (Cry1Ab) provided high marketability, and both Bt varieties significantly outperformed the traditional non-Bt isolines in nearly all cases regardless of insecticide application frequency. For pest suppression of H. zea, plants expressing Bt proteins consistently performed better than non-Bt isoline plants, even those sprayed at conventional insecticide frequencies. Where comparisons in the same state were made between Cry1A.105 Cry2Ab2 and Cry1Ab plants for fresh market, the product expressing Cry1A.105 Cry2Ab2 provided better protection and resulted in less variability in control. Overall, these results indicate Cry1A.105 Cry2Ab2 and Cry1Ab plants are suitable for fresh market and processing corn production across a diversity of growing regions and years. Our results demonstrate that Bt sweet corn has the potential to significantly reduce the use of conventional insecticides against lepidopteran pests and, in turn, reduce occupational and environmental risks that arise from intensive insecticide use.
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Vol. 106 • No. 5