The critical date cometh (for many)

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For graziers who rely on a spring in southern Australia, the first critical date (usually early to mid-October) has passed, but the second one is on its way. In northern Australia, there is one just around the corner and another not far away.

What is a Critical rain date?

It should probably be called a critical feed date. It is the day by which, if you have not grown the expected amount of feed, the trucks arrive. It is a no procrastination line in the sand. Critical rain dates are set to provide a selling trigger at least 2 to 3 weeks before there will be general panic.

It is a date, after which, even if you do get rain, you will not grow a full seasons’ production, mostly due to temperature.

Southern Australia

The first trigger date is early to mid-October. It will differ from region to region but it is the time when, if spring has not sprung properly, you need to be ahead of the crowd.

The second will be around an expected autumn break. It is good practice to set this before Anzac day or school holidays, which are triggers used by the crowd.

Northern Australia

The first critical rain date will be early February. If you have missed the December/January production period, pasture yield will be down, regardless of what happens after this date.

The second date will be before Anzac day. If the growing season has been poor or limited, this is your chance to get in before the crowd decides it will be a tough, dry season/winter.


  • Draw your critical rain dates on your grazing chart.
  • Check the trend of the SR relative to CC on the grazing chart leading up to the ACTION point.
  • Do a feed budget leading up to the ACTION point.
  • Plan to be ahead of public dates such as Easter, Anzac day, school holidays.
  • Plan to be ahead of the crowd.
  • You only need to be 2 to 3 weeks ahead of the crowd to get much higher prices.
  • Allow time to book stock in, muster and order trucks before the critical date
  • Stock GO on the critical date.

Article by

Dr. Terry McCosker
Director of RCS

Other February Newsletter articles

Put a Stop-doing List on Your To-do List
By Dallas Mount

The Importance of Production Records
By Samantha Anderson