Corn producers have many hybrids to choose from including those with transgenic traits for insect management. However, the array of trait packages and what they are best suited for can be hard to keep track of. The “Handy Bt Trait Table” for U.S. corn production provides a helpful list of trade names and details of their trait packages, including which Bt proteins and herbicide traits they contain, what insects they are marketed to control, refuge requirements, and which insects have developed resistance to them in at least some regions. This table is produced by Dr. Chris DiFonzo, extension entomologist at Michigan State, with contributions from Drs. Pat Porter (Texas A&M) and Kelley Tilmon (Ohio State). It has been updated for 2018 and can be a useful guide for farmers and crop consultants in their hybrid selection. It is temporarily housed on this page at Texas A&M while the Michigan State entomology website undergoes renovation.
While Bt traits provide protection against several key insect pests, they are not a substitute for good scouting practices. Likewise, many farmers who are returning to conventional corn may need to be more vigilant about insect pests by maintaining a strong scouting program. Farmers can consider many factors on whether or not to use Bt traits, including the cost and necessity. In some areas of Ohio, other pest management techniques can help limit insect pressure, such as rotation to prevent western corn rootworm and planting early to decrease western bean cutworm. Pest distribution also is a factor: western corn rootworm is more likely found in the western half of Ohio, whereas western bean cutworm is more likely found in the northern third. Keep in mind other important pests, like European corn borer and true armyworm can be found more or less throughout Ohio. Pest distributions can quickly change, and, regardless of whether your corn has Bt or not, scouting is a must! More information about managing corn insects can be found at the OSU Agronomic Crop Insects website at https://aginsects.osu.edu/home