The Falling Number test is an internationally standardized method used by flour millers worldwide to help determine the quality of mill wheat.
Low falling number can be caused by sprouting or pre-harvest germination due to damp or rainy weather conditions during the final stage of maturation.
Using flour that will produce dough with correct strength is very important for millers. There’s a direct link between falling number and the final quality of bread. Wheat with a low falling number makes the dough weak and render it unsuitable for many baking applications. The loaf volume, crumb quality and shelf life are all affected. Bread baked from wheat with a low falling number can be sticky and have a dark crust.
Pasta and noodles made with low falling number flour is fragile, soft and mushy. More starch is lost to cooking water, making the water cloudy. Production problems with low falling number flour – uneven extrusion, strand stretching, and irregularities in drying.
Contrary to common practice in grain handling, blending low and high falling number wheat carry a risk of lowering the result in falling number value, instead of improving the average.