How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds: Two Easy Methods

how to harvest sunflower seeds
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Flickr - tOrange.biz

Harvesting sunflower seeds is relatively simple. Whether you want to save them to plant again next year or eat them as a tasty snack, our easy guide will help you learn when and how to harvest sunflower seeds.

Most people grow sunflowers for their bright and cheery faces. However, there are numerous other benefits to growing the large orange and yellow flowers. They are great flowers for bees, and the seeds make a nutritious snack.

Harvesting sunflower seeds is not a difficult task, but knowing when to harvest them can be tricky. If you collect them too early, the seeds haven’t had time to fully develop, but if you wait too long, birds and other animals will likely beat you to it!

The best time to harvest them is when the green base of the stem starts to get yellow, and the petals have dried and are beginning to fall off. When ready, the seeds will have a full black, or black and white striped shell and will look nice and plump.

Step by Step: How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds

harvesting sunflower seeds
Harvesting seeds from all of your garden plants is a good habit to get into. It saves you money and time the following year! (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Flickr - steve p2008)

Method 1: Outdoors 

  1. When the sunflowers are mature, cover the heads with netting or paper bags to keep wildlife from stealing your sunflower seeds.
  2. Check the seeds regularly – when they begin to loosen, they are ready to harvest.
  3. Remove the seeds by hand and allow them to dry before storing. 

Method 2: Indoors 

  1. When the outer seeds are mature and the inner seeds are beginning to ripen, remove the sunflower head by cutting the stalk about 4 inches below the bloom.
  2. Cover it with a paper bag, and then hang upside-down in a warm area until the seeds are fully matured. 
  3. Harvest the seeds by hand and allow them to dry out further before storing. 

Store dried sunflower seeds for up to 3 months in a sealed container or up to 1 year in the freezer! If you’re keeping some seeds to plant next year, you can add silica gel to your container to keep them dry.

Sunflower Seed Benefits

how to harvest sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds make a great addition to sweet and savory dishes and can also be added to bird feeders. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Engin Akyurt )

Sunflower seeds contain antioxidants, are rich in healthy fats, and high in protein. They are also a good source of iron, potassium, B-vitamins, manganese, and zinc. Like other seeds, despite their small size, sunflower seeds are high in calories, so limit yourself to about ¼ cup at a time!

After you’ve harvested your seeds, you can add them to a trail mix, on top of salads, or in stir frys. Mix them into baked goods like cookies or bread with the following recipes:

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