· According to a U.S. Custom Harvesters Inc. informational pamphlet, the average annual number of acres chopped by a member's forage harvester is about 5,000.

· U.S. milk production for December was up 0.7 percent from one year ago. Most of the increase came from the Midwest and East. California was down 3 percent, while New Mexico dropped 6.2 percent as a result of winter storm Goliath.

· A new national milk production record was set by a cow in Brooklyn, Wis. Bur-Wall Buckeye Gigi calved at 9 years 3 months then proceeded to crank out 74,650 pounds of milk, 2,126 pounds of fat and 2,142 pounds of protein. The previous record was set in 2010 by a Wisconsin cow that produced 72,170 pounds of milk.

· Reports abound that ChemChina is near a deal to acquire Syngenta. It would be the biggest ever purchase by a Chinese company.

· A U.S. park ranger named Roy C. Sullivan holds the record for being struck by lightning the most times. He was struck and survived seven times between 1942 and 1977. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1983.

January 19, 2016

· To suggest it was a warm December in much of the U.S. is an understatement. Over 30 states set a record for the average warmest December. At the same time, many states were were much above normal for precipitation and two states (Iowa and Wisconsin) set records for the wettest December.

· December 1 hay stocks on farms totaled nearly 95 million tons. This is 3 percent (about 3.0 million tons) more than the previous year. It’s the highest December hay stocks number since 2010.

· Congratulations to Glen Aiken, USDA-ARS research scientist at the Forage-Animal Production Research Unit in Lexington, Ky., for receiving the Medallion Award at the American Forage and Grassland Conference held last week in Baton Rouge, La. Kudos are also in order for Keith Johnson, Purdue forage extension specialist, who received the Distinguished Grasslander Award.

· According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, approximately one-third of the food produced in the world is wasted. In the U.S., we throw away enough food each day to fill a 90,000-seat football stadium.

· Results from a joint Ohio and Michigan corn silage hybrid performance test in 2015 can be found here.

· The USDA forecasts that over the next five years 57,900 jobs per year will be available for agriculture graduates. Unfortunately, American agricultural colleges will only be producing about 35,400 graduates per year.

January 12, 2016:

· Based on a 2015 Hoard’s Dairyman magazine readership response survey, the number of farms making high-moisture wrapped silage bales increased from 23 percent in 2004 to 41 percent in 2014.

· Jessica Williamson took over the helm as the Pennsylvania forage extension specialist on January 4. Marvin Hall, who previously held that title for many years, will concentrate his efforts on teaching and research duties. Williamson grew up in western Maryland where her family has a cow-calf and hay operation.

· Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin forage agronomist, reports that a new race of anthracnose in alfalfa is invading the countryside. Unlike previous races, it is showing up in first-cut fields rather than on later growth.

· According to the Illinois Production Cost Report, prices for all major fertilizer types are down compared to a year ago. Both urea and potash are down about $20 per ton.

· The U.S. Health and Human Services agency and the USDA have released their updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines are updated every five years and always provide fuel for debate.

January 5, 2016:

· California's Department of Water Resources had good news from their first media-oriented snow survey last week. Not only was mountain snow depth above the long-term average, but also the water content of the snow was well above normal. Though officials noted there's still a lot of winter ahead, this appears to be a good start. The full report can be found here.

· Winter storm Goliath wreaked havoc in parts of New Mexico and Texas. Though it's much too early to get firm damage estimates, a loss of about 5 percent of the area's milking herd is one number that is being reported. Other livestock classes suffered significant losses as well.

· Winter storms in the form of monsoon-like rainfall also pounded parts of the Midwest. In addition to flooding along major rivers, much localized flooding of fields is also being reported. Potential impacts on hayfields and pasture have yet to be determined.

· Alfalfa now accounts for 56 percent of forage exports, according to the U.S. Forage Export Council. In 2008, alfalfa comprised only 37 percent of forage exports.

· The American Forage and Grassland Conference kicks off next week in Baton Rouge, La.