How do you harvest sunflower plants and seeds?
Hardiness Zone: 8b
By brenda53 from TX
Step 1: Start harvesting sunflower seeds around the third week of September. A sure sign that it is time to harvest the seeds is when the back of the sunflower turns brown and the head starts to curl. The petals will fall off and the seeds will have black stripes on them.
Step 2: Early harvest of seeds is accomplished with some muscle and utilizing the oven to dry the sunflower seeds. Remove the heads from the sunflower when the back of the flower is a light yellow color. Use a towel to rub the seeds into a bowl. Soak the seeds overnight in a solution of a quarter cup salt mixed with one quart of water. Spread seeds on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 200 degrees for three hours.
Step 3: Sunflower seeds can also be dried while still on the head. Cut the heads off the plant. Use the sunflower stem to hang the heads in a garage or shed. Place a bag over the heads to catch seeds as they fall. To prevent mold and encourage drying, poke holes in the bag to keep the seeds ventilated. Good luck.
When the seed head turns dark and dry, take it off the plant and put it into a plastic bag, let it stay open so the seed will get very dry, then you can mash with your hands. You can see the very small seed. I use a large tea strainer, put it over a large container to save the seed, then put the seed in a Ziploc bag til next spring. Plant after the cold weather is gone, you don't need to save the plant. Good luck.
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