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Thomas Björkman, Hugh C. Price, Gary E. Harman, James Ballerstein, and Patricia Nielsen

A strain of the biocontrol fungus Trichoderma harzianum was tested for effectiveness in improving the performance of sh2 sweet corn using a variety of delivery methods. In greenhouse trials, Trichoderma seed treatment reduced the proportion of weak plants (unlikely to make a marketable ear) from 40% to 10%. This is evidence that the characteristically uneven stand establishment of supersweet corn should be overcome by using Trichoderma. In field trials, Trichoderma and Gliocladium (a related fungus) were inoculated as a seed treatment without fungicide in spring-tilled plots. Yields of uninoculated controls were 2.2, Gliocladium-treated were 2.6, and Trichoderma -treated were 3.6 T/ac. Delivering the same lines of fungus in the fall to a rye cover crop resulted in high populations the following spring. The cover crop was killed and fungicide-treated seed of `Zenith' sweet corn was planted without tillage. Yield with Trichoderma was 4.0, with Gliocladium was 3.7, and uninoculated was 2.4 T/at. The uninoculated, conventionally-tilled plots also yielded 4 T/at. Thus the beneficial fungi overcame the inhibition caused by no-till. Trichoderma was delivered effectively both as a seed treatment and on a winter cover crop to improve stand uniformity and overall yield.