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Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

How to Harvest and Collect Seeds from Sunflower Plants

We are getting near the end of our summer growing season here at Celtic Farm, and have started to harvest seeds from spent sunflower plants.  We left quite a few to harvest their seeds, and wanted to share how to gather.  Below is a guide to gather the seeds.
Sunflower seeds ready to harvest

Drying Sunflower Head

When to Harvest Sunflower Seeds

First off, you need to recognize when sunflowers are ready to relinquish their seeds.  They give you quite a loud signal, and the heads will begin drooping towards the ground.  You will know you can begin the process when the back of the head starts to turn brown, and you can recognize the seeds in the head.

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

Brown Back of the Sunflower

How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds

Once your seed heads are ready, do the following:
  1. Cut the head from the stalk and leave about 6 inches.
  2. Wrap a paper bag around the head.
  3. Hang the bag in a warm, dry place.
  4. Periodically check the bag, and the drying process.
drying sunflowers in paper bags

Place Sunflowers in a Bag

Collecting the Sunflower Seeds

Once the head is completely brown, and you can rub your finger over the seed head and seeds fall freely, you can open up a newspaper, and rub the seed head vigorously to remove the seeds from the head.  Place the seeds in a colander and run water over them, rinsing them well.  This will remove dirt and bacteria.  Place the seeds on paper towels in a well ventilated area until they are dry, and then place them in a new paper bag or envelope, seal it, and put it in a dry place until next season.

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