Falling Number® in grain trade

In years with rainy weather conditions during harvest, significant sprout damage may occur. In such years every truck load of grain should be tested at the grain intake before unloading and segregated to different silo bins to avoid mixing loads of sound grain with sprout damaged grain. Damaged grain can be used for animal feed or other non-baking purposes such as biofuel. The segregation is important as an uncontrolled mixing of even a few percent of highly sprouted grain with sound grain can make the entire mixture unsuitable for bread making or other end product purposes. Segregation also allows for a careful blending of grains to meet FN specifications particularly at the flour mill.

The Falling Number® value can vary from 62 seconds for heavily sprouted grain with excessive enzyme activity to well over 400 seconds for grains from warm and dry areas. The exact limits for segregation vary between different countries or markets and depending on the end use purpose of the grain. In the EU, the limit for intervention of bread (common) wheat is a minimum Falling Number of 220 seconds. Segregation limits at 250, 300 and even 350 seconds are commonly used for example by exporting countries for wheat or durum wheat. Limits are lower for rye with segregation below or above the 110-140 seconds range.

Because of the quality impact of sprout damaged grain, the FN value is used in price regulations for payment to farmers or traders in national and international trade world wide and for verifying trade contract quality specifications. Typically damaged wheat can receive a 10-30% lower price causing significant economic losses to the farmer or grain trader.