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


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.



pre-harvest sprouting


physiological maturity


Falling Number


days after anthesis


growing degree days


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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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Correspondence to J. M. Lewis.

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Communicated by F. Békés and A. Aniol

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Yu, N., Laurenz, R., Siler, L. et al. Evaluation of α-Amylase Activity and Falling Number around Maturity for Soft White and Soft Red Wheat Varieties in Michigan. CEREAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS 43, 672–681 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1556/0806.43.2015.026

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