The Illinois State Corn Husking Competition is one of nine competitions happening during harvest season all across the Midwest. Abby Wendle /NPR hide caption

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Dan Selvig says wetter conditions helped convince his family to shift their plantings to corn. John Ydstie/NPR hide caption

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Farmer Seth Watkins (left) and agronomist Matt Liebman stand amid native prairie grasses near Des Moines, Iowa. The conservation strip is used to stop soil erosion. John Ydstie/NPR hide caption

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A corn purchaser writes on his account in northwest China in 2012. In November 2013, officials began rejecting imports of U.S. corn when they detected traces of a new gene not yet approved in China. Peng Zhaozhi/Xinhua/Landov hide caption

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Wheat fields like this one could yield wheat with less zinc and iron in the future if they are exposed to higher levels of CO2, according to the journal Nature. Zaharov Evgeniy/iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Adam Cole/NPR

Seed corn sits in the hopper of a planter. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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Rowbot is designed to fit in between the rows of crops. Moving up and down each row, a fleet of 20 bots could fertilize and monitor the corn crops during the growing season. Courtesy of Kent Cavender-Bares hide caption

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Curt Friesen is a fourth-generation farmer in central Nebraska. Grant Gerlock/for NPR hide caption

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The heirloom corn variety has only eight rows of kernels and hence, its name: New England Eight Row Flint. Courtesy of Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture hide caption

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Italian farmer Giorgio Fidenato picks up what's left of his genetically altered corn after anti-GMO activists trampled it, back in 2010. Paolo Giovannini/AP hide caption

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