Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

I was excited when my first ever sunflowers came up this summer. And then they actually had these big, beautiful sunflowers! I have always looked at pictures of gardens that had sunflowers and thought I would like to do that someday. Well, this summer, someday arrived. It has been an interesting venture. 

I didn’t grow very many. The seeds I planted were a few years old and I didn’t know if they would still be viable.

Here are the first two that I thought were ready to pick. I wasn’t sure at what stage I should pick them.


The rest I left to ripen longer on the plants. This first batch of seeds I picked out very carefully.

When it came time to get the seeds out of these flower heads, they were much drier and the material surrounding the seeds came out of the flower head as well. It reminds me of the chaff surrounding a wheat seed.

I ended up pulling the dried stem portion from the back of the flower then breaking up the seed head into pieces. This made it easier to handle and remove the seeds. I got a few splinters in my hand and would recommend wearing gloves.

The kittens decided it would be fun to help.

They are great fun to watch. It is a toss up which one is more fun to watch, kittens or baby goats. They both love to run and play and crack me up regularly.


A few days ago Frank refurbished our old triangle dinner bell. We have had this for many years and it was a little worse for the wear. He got out the wire brush and cleaned the corrosion off of the metal and added new leather string for hanging. He also had to add another hook to the porch for it to hang from. It is a neat addition to the back porch. I got to admire it while I was working on the sunflower seeds.

I was surprised at the number of seeds I harvested from these few flowers. But as I look at my pan of seeds, I know that it wouldn’t last a few days if I was trying to feed goats and chickens. I would need many more. I thought of trying to winnow out some of the chaff or waste material that came with the seeds from the flower head, but if I were to feed these to the goats, I think they would eat it all.

I plan to keep most of these to plant next year. I want to make sure I can grow replacement seeds.  I’ll also find out if the goats like them. The chickens get some sunflower seeds in the scratch grain we feed them now, so I know they would eat these as well. 

This has been another good learning experience, one I have wanted to try out for a long time. Now it’s your turn. Enjoy.

Until next time – Fern

8 thoughts on “Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

  1. Thank you very much for the information. It would be nice for the seeds to just fall out! We have eaten alfalfa sprouts and a few others, but I have never heard about sunflower sprouts. That is good to know. Thanks again. I love to learn new things.Fern

  2. When I have successfully harvested sunflower seeds I have waited until the entire stalk is brown and looks dead. While waiting for this I cover the head with cheesecloth securing in the back with a tie wrap to prevent birds and squirrels from eating the seeds. When the seed head is ready for harvest the seeds will actually fall out of the head when brushed with my thumb.To separate the chaff from the seed – put all in a bowl, cover with water, the chaff will float and will be easy to remove. Dump the water, spread the seeds out on newspaper and let dry, out of the sun. Be sure they are completely dry before storing in a glass or plastic jar.Besides growing more sunflowers the seeds can be planted in a flat and harvested as microgreens/sprouts when 2 or 3 sets of leaves appear. A great way to add fresh greens to your winter diet.

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