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1 June 2015 Intraear Compensation of Field Corn, Zea mays, from Simulated and Naturally Occurring Injury by Ear-Feeding Larvae
S. Steckel, S. D. Stewart
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Ear-feeding larvae, such as corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea Boddie (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), can be important insect pests of field corn, Zea mays L., by feeding on kernels. Recently introduced, stacked Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) traits provide improved protection from ear-feeding larvae. Thus, our objective was to evaluate how injury to kernels in the ear tip might affect yield when this injury was inflicted at the blister and milk stages. In 2010, simulated corn earworm injury reduced total kernel weight (i.e., yield) at both the blister and milk stage. In 2011, injury to ear tips at the milk stage affected total kernel weight. No differences in total kernel weight were found in 2013, regardless of when or how much injury was inflicted. Our data suggested that kernels within the same ear could compensate for injury to ear tips by increasing in size, but this increase was not always statistically significant or sufficient to overcome high levels of kernel injury. For naturally occurring injury observed on multiple corn hybrids during 2011 and 2012, our analyses showed either no or a minimal relationship between number of kernels injured by ear-feeding larvae and the total number of kernels per ear, total kernel weight, or the size of individual kernels. The results indicate that intraear compensation for kernel injury to ear tips can occur under at least some conditions.

© The Authors 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email:
S. Steckel and S. D. Stewart "Intraear Compensation of Field Corn, Zea mays, from Simulated and Naturally Occurring Injury by Ear-Feeding Larvae," Journal of Economic Entomology 108(3), 1106-1114, (1 June 2015).
Received: 30 December 2013; Accepted: 15 April 2015; Published: 1 June 2015

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corn earworm
Helicoverpa zea
simulated injury
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