With 480 acres of growing space, Monsanto has the largest research farm in North America. The crop it harvests is like a preview because it reveals a lot about what farmers can expect regionally.
"Where the corn is good and survived the heat stress, it's doing very well," he said.
The growing season was filled with all kinds of weather challenges, from a cold, wet spring to a hot, dry summer. Farmers like Dudley are forced to roll along with the forecast.
"We have seen some areas where the corn was stressed in July," he said. "It has hurt the yield some."
Going into this week, only 11% of the Illinois corn crop had been harvested. More than 2/3 of the crop rates as fair to good. In Iowa, more than half the corn crop ranks in good or excellent condition.
Each combine pass tells a story. It's a busy routine. Within these rituals, it's a decent harvest for the Monsanto crop. It might not be one for the record books, but it's still above average.
"I think it's still going to be a good year for the farmer," Ricketts concluded. "I think he's still going to have plenty of opportunities to make money."
As Dudley Ricketts guides the combine through another row of corn, it's the sign of a busy harvest season at Monsanto in Monmouth.