Cereal Research Communications

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 672–681 | Cite as

Evaluation of α-Amylase Activity and Falling Number around Maturity for Soft White and Soft Red Wheat Varieties in Michigan

  • N. Yu
  • R. Laurenz
  • L. Siler
  • P. K. W. Ng
  • E. Souza
  • J. M. LewisEmail author
Open Access
Quality and Utilization


White wheat is, categorically, more susceptible to pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) than red wheat. Physiological maturity (PM), defined as when the seeds reach their maximum dry weight, is a critical time before harvesting. The objective of this study was to determine a reference level of α-amylase activity and the corresponding Falling Number (FN) value near the time of PM of selected red and white cultivars in the absence of PHS inducing conditions. Twenty-four soft winter wheat genotypes (12 red and 12 white) adapted to Michigan with varying historic levels of susceptibility to PHS were planted in an α-lattice design in two locations from 2008 to 2010. Spikes were collected three days before PM, at PM, and three days post PM. Samples were freeze-dried, threshed, milled and evaluated for α-amylase activity and FN value using high throughput method. Within genotype, clear trends were observed in the reduction of α-amylase activity and the increase of FN value during the physiological maturation. A nonlinear relationship between α-amylase activity and FN value was fit with an r2 of 0.801. Significant differences were observed for genotype for both α-amylase activity and FN value for all collection time points. No significant differences were found between red and white wheat, categorically, at any of the three time-points in the absence of PHS. The evaluation results provide a critical reference prior to induction of PHS. The α-amylase activity and FN tests show different advantages in analyzing PHS samples as the relationship between α-amylase activity and FN value is not linear over wide-ranging results.


falling number wheat α-amylase Michigan pre-harvest sprouting PHS red wheat white wheat quality breeding 



pre-harvest sprouting


physiological maturity


Falling Number


days after anthesis


growing degree days



This work was supported by Eastern Soft White Wheat Endowment Committee, Michigan State Miller’s Association and Michigan Crop Improvement Association.


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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2015

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Yu
    • 1
    • 4
  • R. Laurenz
    • 1
  • L. Siler
    • 1
  • P. K. W. Ng
    • 2
  • E. Souza
    • 3
    • 5
  • J. M. Lewis
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial SciencesMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Department of Food Science and Human NutritionMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.Soft Wheat Quality Laboratory, USDA-ARSWoosterUSA
  4. 4.Department of Crop SciencesUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  5. 5.Bayer CropScience LPLincolnUSA

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