USDA Improves the Official Fall Number Testing Determination for Wheat

February 21, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), will implement a new barometric pressure correction and require the use of the Perten Shakematic for the determination of falling number (FN) for wheat grain to reduce overall variation of test results within the official inspection system effective May 1, 2019. The FN test is an internationally standardized method and the most widely accepted means for evaluating alpha-amylase activity.

In 2016, industry stakeholders requested AMS reduce the variation in the FN test. In response, AMS identified two opportunities to reduce overall variation in official FN testing:  1) implement a new correction to sea level conditions using the measured barometric pressure and 2) require the use of a robotic sample shaker, the Perten Shakematic 1095. In October 2018, the Grain Inspection Advisory Committee (GIAC) endorsed these changes. The GIAC is a committee representing all segments of the grain industry and is appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to assist AMS in better meeting stakeholder needs.

AMS has issued updated instructions on performing the FN test and provided training to official service providers.   The updated instructions included the barometric pressure correction, requirement of the Shakematic, and some additional quality control procedures.

For more information regarding these changes, please visit the letter to stakeholders (pdf) or contact the Analytical Chemistry Branch at

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