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How are sunflower seeds harvested?

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How do you harvest sunflower seeds from a sunflower? These how-to videos make it look simple and super satisfying, from removing its small flowers to drying it and popping out the seeds. Above, Random Radz removes the seeds from a giant purple sunflower in under two minutes.

Below, a shorter but more calming video: Saving Sunflower Seeds, filmed by Growing In The Garden.


How do you know when your sunflower seed heads are ready to remove from the stalk? These instructions from SFGate explain that and more:

Monitor the flower heads on your sunflowers daily when they begin to wilt. They are ready to harvest when the back sides of the heads are yellow and start turning brown. Although the seeds may actually be mature before that time, the flower heads are still moist and need time to dry out prior to harvest. Examine the seeds closely. They’ll look flat and a bit shrunken because they need more time to plump up.

Cover the sunflower head with a brown paper bag to protect the seeds from birds. Tie it closed with a piece of string to keep ripening seeds from falling out. Don’t use a plastic bag. Plastic won’t allow the flower head to breathe, causing mold to develop. Leave the paper bag in place while the sunflower dies back completely.

Remove the paper bag daily to check on the sunflower’s progress. The seeds are ready to harvest when the back of the flower head turns completely dark brown and the flower looks as if it’s dead or dying. Most if not all of the petals will have fallen off.

Cut the flower stalk about 12 to 18 inches below the top of the bag. Turn it upside down and hang it from the stem in a well-ventilated spot in a warm, dry room until the flower head is completely dry. This can take from one to five days.

Check the bagged sunflower head every day. Shake it vigorously. You’ll hear loose seeds rattling around inside the bag. Open the bag and feel the flower head for dryness. Brush your fingers lightly over a few of the seeds in the head. If they fall off easily, they’re ready for storage.

Also, from The Old Farmer’s Almanac: How to plant, grow, and care for sunflowers.

sunflower seeds
Watch Sunflower time-lapse next.

Plus, see more videos about seeds, seed dispersal, and harvesting, including:
• Li Ziqi and the Golden Season of Corn
• Pop! Hungry caterpillars vs. touch-me-not seed pods
• From seed to sapling: Time lapse of an oak tree
• Cherry harvesting with a hydraulic tree shaker
• Pecan – How does it grow?

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