Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

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How do I know when the seeds are ready for harvest? The flowers/seed heads have lost the petals around the outer edge or else they're limp and dried up. The little flowery things on top of the seeds, however are still there. Some of them they brush off easily -- in other spots, the little flowery things still are hanging on fairly tightly. The stalks are still somewhat green in color.

I hope I've told you everything about them that is necessary -- if not, what else do you need to know?

-- Joy F [in So. Wisconsin] (CatFlunky@excite.com), October 05, 2001


When you see the flower head leaning over, they're usually ready to be cut from the stalk. Another sign is when the birds start eating them. Some people advise to cover the heads with a net of some kind to keep the birds off and leave them on the stalk awhile longer. We don't do this step. We cut the head from the stalk when the seeds are dry, but before they begin to fall off. Some seeds begin to change color when they're dry and the little flower pieces you mentioned fall off easily. Touch the seeds and see if they're drying at all and if they're changing color. I had the Russian Mammoth flowers and you could see the color on the seeds, not just white anymore. Hang the heads in a well-ventilated (but relatively mouse- proof) place to dry for 2-3 few weeks. Then rub off the seeds by rubbing 2 flower heads together. Hope this helps.

-- Rose Marie Wild (wintersongfarm@yahoo.com), October 06, 2001.

we grew a few russian mammoth sunflowers also, abut to feed to the birds. we've hung a few heads upside down from the rafters of the hen house, and should cut down the others this weekend. We grew some " autumn beauty " sunflowers too...the grow to about 7 or 8 feet with many small heads of flowers that are great for cutting, or just enjoying on the plant, and if you let them go ' to seed ' goldfinches will have a field day picking them out !

-- dale ball in Northern Va (birdfoot@aol.com), October 09, 2001.

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