We examined nine pairs of near-isogenic hybrids of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and non-Bt corn, Zea mays L., at two locations in 1999 and three locations in 2000 to compare the effects of Bt toxins on damage caused by Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) to whorl stage field corn, and ear damage at harvest, as well as yield. We found that whorl damage was less in all Bt hybrids compared with their non-Bt counterparts each year and at each location. Differences in ear damage between Bt and non-Bt hybrids, however, differed in 1999 and 2000. In 1999, only one Bt hybrid, NC 5788Bt, had less ear damage than its non-Bt counterpart at the dryland site, whereas four Bt hybrids, C8120Bt, P31B13Bt, P33V08Bt, and NC 5788Bt, had less damage at the irrigated site. In 2000, most Bt hybrids had less ear damage than their non-Bt counterparts at each location. Differences in whorl damage did not translate into yield differences. However, variations in ear damage were partially reflected in yield differences. In 1999, P31B13Bt and P33V08Bt had higher yields than their non-Bt counterparts at both sites, whereas in 2000 all Bt hybrids had higher yields. Also, although whorl damage was not correlated with yield, ear damage was negatively correlated with yield; increasing ear damage by H. zea decreased yield for Bt and non-Bt hybrids alike. Overall, depending on location and year, each centimeter of H. zea ear damage reduced yield by between 2 and 13%.
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Vol. 99 • No. 6