CAHNRS and WSU Extension

Wheat and Small Grains

White Paper: Strategies to Reduce Economic Losses Due to Low Falling Number in Wheat

The White Paper was developed after the recent Falling Numbers Summit in Spokane, WA on Feb 16, 2017. That event was unique because it brought together a wide group of members of the grain industry, including federal and state grain inspectors, elevator operators, grain millers and bakers, the research community, grain commissions and grower groups, exporters and state extension services and representatives from private sector agronomy and plant breeding companies.

Since 2011, low falling numbers have cost western farmers millions of dollars. Economic losses to the grain industry in 2016 alone exceeded $30 million at harvest and will likely approach $140 million in total. The two causes of low FNs in wheat grain are: 1) pre-harvest sprouting or germination on the mother plant due to rain before harvest, and 2) late maturity alpha-amylase (LMA) due to heat or cold shock during grain development.

At the meeting, the members of the grain community shared current knowledge, determined where more knowledge is needed, developed priorities for action and assigned leaders to each priority action item. The focus of the meeting was on short (3-6 month) and mid-term (6 months to 2 years) strategies. The white paper identifies the strategies and outcomes from that meeting. The immediate goals are to improve the Falling number test by increasing the standardization of the testing protocol and to analyze existing data to detect patterns in the response of wheat varieties.  All results will be posted on the Small Grains Grain Quality Resources page.

A follow-up meeting for researchers will occur at the Western Wheat Workers Conference in Corvallis, May 31-June 1 and a follow-up meeting for the industry will occur at the Tri-State Grain Growers Convention in Spokane in November 2017.

For questions or comments, contact Kimberly Campbell at (208) 310-9876 or at

One comment on “White Paper: Strategies to Reduce Economic Losses Due to Low Falling Number in Wheat”

  1. mike Williams said on March 23, 2017:

    Thanks for the update on research

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