Low falling numbers are challenging small grain farmers at harvest across northwest Minnesota. University of Minnesota small grains specialist Johchum Wiersma says low falling numbers can happen in the absence of rain. It also may be due to a cold shock at the end of grain fill. “The cold shock results in higher alpha-amylase content in the seeds, which gives us a false positive when we do the falling numbers test. There is also some sprout damage out there with the 10 plus days of rain while the crop is mature.” Wiersma says the best course for farmers is to avoid blending seed where there could be sprout damage. “It’s not a linear relationship when we blend good wheat with high falling numbers with wheat that has low falling numbers. Segregating is important.”
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