In western Kansas, the corn looks unsalvageable. The landscape is rife with curled brown leaves, an unmistakable sign of severe drought.
Yet beneath those wilted leaves, some of the corn shows promise. The kernels have held up surprisingly well in a few places given this summer’s swelter. At hundreds of sites across the Great Plains, seed companies such as Monsanto and Pioneer are testing a slew of corn varieties engineered to withstand drought. As the harvest approaches, they’re anxious to see the results.