Submitted to: WSU Extension Bulletin
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/22/2016
Publication Date: 8/22/2016
Citation: Steber, C.M. 2016. Extension Facts: Managing the risk of low falling numbers in wheat. WSU Extension Bulletin. FS242E.
Interpretive Summary: Grain is purchased at a discount when falling numbers are below 300 sec. This can result in serious losses for farmers. This article addresses many commonly asked questions about the Hagberg-Perten Falling Number test, and provides some suggestions for reducing losses due to low falling numbers.
Technical Abstract: This article reviews the Hagberg-Perten Falling Number test, and the environmental conditions that result in reduced falling numbers. Preharvest sprouting and Late Maturity Alpha-amylase can both result in reduced falling number as a consequence of starch digestion by the enzyme alpha-amylase. Preharvest sprouting is the germination of mature grain on the mother plant when cool rainy conditions occur before harvest. Sprouting grain expresses alpha-amylase in order to mobilize starch as fuel for seedling growth. Late maturity alpha-amylase in the induction of alpha-amylase in response to heat or cold stress during the late maturation phase of grain development. Lower falling numbers results in poor end-use quality of baked goods. Thus, farmers are forced to sell northwestern U.S. wheat with a falling number below 300 sec at a substantial discount. This article provides answers to commonly asked questions about falling numbers, and suggests strategies to prevent problems with low falling number.