If you want to harvest sunflower seeds for planting next year, then you need to learn about it now so that when the time comes, you are ready with it. And here, we will explain about how to harvest sunflower seeds. So, learn it well.
The Steps to Harvest Sunflower Seeds
There are some steps that you are able to do to harvest sunflower seeds. You are able to see them below.
- The first step is cutting. This is the easiest and fastest step in the process. If you see that the sunflowers have died completely and the backs of the blooms are brown, it means that it is the right time to harvest the sunflower seeds. You will see that the seeds are plump and loose. So, you can cut the stalk of the sunflower by using sharp scissors or pruners. You can cut it about one foot down from the flower head. Then, you have to put in a container which can catch any loose seeds.
- You may be afraid that birds will eat all of your sunflower seeds before you can harvest them. So, you are able to tie a paper bag over the blooms right in the garden. Or, you are able to cut the stalks before they are ready and hang them indoors to dry. If you decide to cut sunflower blooms and you find that some of them are not quite ready to harvest yet, it is no problem. You just have to tie them together with twine and hang them in a warm dry area for about 5 days.
- Now, it’s time to remove the seeds from the flower. When you are doing this, you are able to wear gloves or not depending on your preference. You have to firmly rub the seed head over a bucket so that the bucket will catch the seeds. You will get petals and other sunflower matter in with the seeds, but it is fine. You are able to remove them later.
- If you have a plan to replant the seed, you have to rinse the seeds in a colander. After that, pick out all the bits and pieces that are not seed. Then, you have to line a shallow cardboard box or wooden crate with newspaper and paper towels. Then, you have to scatter the seeds in a single layer to dry and leave space between each seed. You have to permit them to dry for several hours or even overnight. If you want to save the seeds to re-plant, you have to save them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Then, when you are ready to plant, you can use them. It is important for you to label the container with the variety and the date when you harvested them. If you save this way, the seeds will last for years.
When to Harvest Sunflower Seeds
If you want to harvest your sunflower seeds, you need to know the right time to do it. It may be a little bit tricky when to harvest the seeds. If you harvest too soon, you will have a lot of seeds but small kernels inside. But, if you want too long, they may dry out or get eaten by the birds. So, it is important for you to know the characteristics of sunflower seeds which are ready to be harvested. Here are the characteristics of sunflower seeds which are ready to harvest.
- The seeds are developed or plump.
- The petals of the flower start to dry out and fall off.
- The back of the flower turns from green to yellow if you cut the stem off to dry.
- The back of the flower is brown if you allow the seeds dry with the stem intact.
How to Plant Sunflower Seeds
If you have harvested the sunflower seeds, now you may be ready to plant them. Make sure that you plant them at the right time. It is best for you to plant sunflowers in late spring when the ground is warm and nice. Usually, sunflowers will germinate when soil has reached 70 to 85 degrees F. So, you have to plant them before the soil reaches this temperature. Generally, it will be about three weeks after the last frost.
How to plant sunflower seeds? You are able to follow the steps below.
- The first thing that you have to do is to plant the seeds between 1 to 2 inches deep. The space seeds about 6 inches apart in a shallow trench. If the soil is sandy, you can plant them 2 inches deep.
- After that, you have to cover and keep watered them until seeds can sprout in 7 to 10 days.
- When you see that there is the first true leaves which appear or the second set of leaves, it will be thin plants which are about 2 feet apart.
- Sunflowers will mature and develop seeds in 80 to 120 days and it depends on the variety of sunflowers that you plant.
- Now, you are able to sow a new row every 2 to 3 weeks if you want to enjoy continuous blooms until the first frost.
During their most important growth period which is about 20 days before and after flowering, you have to water them regularly. If you water them deeply and regularly, it will help encourage root growth which is helpful with taller sunflower varieties which bear top-heavy blooms.
If you think about fertilizing, sunflowers do not require it. However, they grow vigorously, so you are able to add some slow-acting granular fertilizer to poor thin soil. If they have a better diet, you will get larger flowers. But, it is important for you to know that you do not overdo the nitrogen since it can delay flowering. You just need to spread 2 or 3 inch much later of some kind of organic material on the soil. By doing it, it will reduce moisture loss through evaporation and also it can prevent weeds.