How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds

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Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus )are a beautiful addition to any homestead. You'll start seeing blooms around 80 140 days after you sow them. But did you know that you can also harvest the seeds from sunflowers to use as food for your chickens or to plant next year's crop? Here's How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds.

How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds

How do I know when sunflower seeds are ready to harvest?

One of the most common questions gardeners have about sunflowers is how to tell when the seeds are ready to harvest. Some people say the best time to harvest sunflower seeds is after the flower heads (the calyx) have died back and the backs of the blooms are brown. You can also wait until the leaves begin to yellow and fall off.

Dried sunflowers

Now doing so may result in birds and squirrels helping themselves. So you don't want that to happen watch for the flower head to go from green to yellow. Then cut to about 6-8 inches of stem. Then you'll want to remove any leaves and then do an inspection and remove any pests. Hang the heads facing down with some twine in a dry place with good ventilation. Once the heads have turned black/brown and you seed the seeds are nice and plump, then you are ready to harvest.

Can you eat sunflower seeds from the plant?

Sunflower seeds can be eaten raw, roasted, or ground into flour. They are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate. One ounce of sunflower seeds (about 28 seeds) contains about 160 calories and 6 grams of protein. Sunflower seeds can be a healthy addition to your diet, but they should be eaten in moderation. If you have any allergies or medical conditions, check with your doctor before eating sunflower seeds.

Tools You'll Need
First things first, you'll need to gather the following supplies:
-A sharp knife or pruning shears
-A clean, dry bucket
-An old pillowcase or piece of cheesecloth
Once you have your supplies, you're ready to begin harvesting!

Step One: Cut the Heads Off the Plants
Using a sharp knife or pruning shears, cut the heads off the sunflower plants, being careful not to damage the stalk. You'll want to cut the heads as close to the base of the plant as possible. Once you've cut all the heads, set them aside in a clean, dry bucket.
Harvesting Sunflower Seeds Step Two: Dry the Heads Completely
Before you can remove the seeds from the sunflower heads, you'll need to make sure they are completely dry. The easiest way to do this is to set them out in the sun for a few days. If it's raining or if you live in a humid climate, you can dry them indoors by setting them on a cooling rack in your oven (with the oven turned OFF). Once they are completely dry, proceed to step three.

Harvesting sunflower seeds

Step Three: Remove the Seeds from the Heads Gently rub your hands over the surface of the sunflower head until all of the seeds have been loosened and fallen into your bucket. Some seeds may be stubborn and need a little help getting started. You can use a fork to remove those seeds. Once all of the seeds have been removed, proceed to step four.

Step Four: Clean and Store Your Seeds The final step is to clean your seeds so they are ready for storage. The best way to do this is by placing them in a bowl of cool water and stirring gently with your hand until all of the debris has floated to the top and been removed. Then spread them out on a towel and allow them to air dry completely before storing them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

storing sunflower seeds

Now that you have harvested your own sunflower seeds, you can store them for eating later or use them to make your own suet or homemade no waste birdseed.

With a little time and effort, you can easily harvest sunflower seeds from your own homestead! All you need is a sharp knife or pruning shears, a clean bucket, and an old pillowcase or piece of cheesecloth. Once you've harvested your seeds, be sure to clean and store them properly so they'll be fresh and ready for use next season. Thanks for reading!

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  1. My husband loves to eat sunflower seeds, I never thought about growing/harvesting them myself!

    1. Hi Randall, yes you should be able to do the same with sunflowers growing wild as long as they’re big enough. Let us know how it goes if you try it.

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