Explanation of the "Falling Number"

Frequently, flour buyers will hear the quality of the wheat described by it’s “falling number”.  


Low-quality wheat can be wheat damaged by sprouting—measured by using 'falling number' measurements.  During the 2004 growing season, a cold summer with early frosts and a prolonged, wet harvest season hurt wheat quality, causing kernels to sprout before harvest.  Sprouted kernels increase an enzyme that affects the way flour and dough perform for bakers.  A low 'falling number' in a sample indicates a high level of the enzyme.