Falling Number® in malting

Sound, viable grains are required for a high germination in malting barley. Several studies have shown that barley that has pre-germinated in the field has a decreased ability to germinate during the malting process, leading to high levels of beta-glucan in the wort. Even barley with a low degree of pregermination will be affected. The ability to germinate further decreases during storage, and barley with acceptable germination at harvest could only months later exhibit germinations significantly lower than the generally requested 95% (see chart). The slight pre-germination is not possible to detect through visual inspection, but through measurement of a-amylase activity.

To avoid purchase of pre-germinated barley the Falling Number® analysis can be used for acceptance testing at the barley intake. The method is rapid and determines if the barley is pre-germinated within 5 minutes.
FN > 250 Sound barley, batch OK for intake
FN < 250 Pre-germinated. Risk for poor germination, further tests needed.