Sunday, June 09, 2013

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds from the Heads

For ten days, I had been drying the cut sunflower heads in a wicker storage box in my Florida Room. Today, I worked on my first dried sunflower head to harvest the sunflower seeds.

Dried Sunflower Head Before Harvesting Seeds
Dried Sunflower Head Before Harvesting Seeds
I knew that my sunflower head was about ready for harvesting the seeds as the top layer was easily falling away from the head. In the above picture, you can see the seeds exposed near the center of the head.

Dried Sunflower Head Before Harvesting Seeds
Dried Sunflower Head Before Harvesting Seeds
Checking the dried sunflower head, the rest of the top layer was easily falling away, exposing more of the sunflower seeds below.

Completely Removed Top Layer of the Dried Sunflower Head
Completely Removed Top Layer of the Dried Sunflower Head
Carefully running the ball of your finger over the top of the dried sunflower head, the top layer should easily fall off. Now you can see your seeds are completely exposed.

Some Sunflower Seeds Removed from the Dried Sunflower Head
Some Sunflower Seeds Removed from the Dried Sunflower Head
As you gently brush the top of the dried sunflower head, the seeds will literally pop out. If you look closely at the above picture, you can actually see the remainder of the seeds within the seed head.

More Sunflower Seeds Removed from the Dried Sunflower Head
More Sunflower Seeds Removed from the Dried Sunflower Head
I found it amazing to see just how many sunflower seeds were neatly tucked into that dried sunflower head. In the above picture, you can now clearly see the honeycomb structure within the head that held the seeds. It rather reminds me of a bee's honeycomb.

All Sunflower Seeds Removed from the Dried Sunflower Head
All Sunflower Seeds Removed from the Dried Sunflower Head
Holy Smokes! Look at all those sunflower seeds. You can see them in the right side of the picture. On the left, is the top layer which covered the seeds. And, the honeycomb sunflower head has had all the seeds removed.

Grading the Sunflower Seeds Removed from the Dried Sunflower Head
Grading the Sunflower Seeds Removed from the Dried Sunflower Head
I was curious how many sunflower seeds I gathered from harvesting the dried sunflower head. Can you make an educated guess how many there are without looking ahead at the answer?

How Many Sunflower Seeds Can You Harvest From One Dried Sunflower Head?

You can see I made 4 little piles of seeds. I was rather "grading" the types of seeds by A, B, C and D grades. To the far right is A; to the far left is the D group. After completing the counting and grading, I found that A and B were pretty comparable in quality and size.

Piles A and B have 100 sunflower seeds each. Pile C has 90 sunflower seeds. Pile D - I did not count but estimate that there are at least 50 little seeds. That's 290 good seeds from one dried sunflower head plus the 50 little seeds = 340 seeds!

I was more than a little impressed with the amount of seeds that I harvested from that one sunflower head. It measured 3.5 inches in diameter and weighed about 4.5 ounces. So, that's about 100 sunflower seeds harvested per 1 inch.

These sunflower seeds were harvested to be used as seeds for planting more sunflower plants. I hope to be distributing my sunflower seeds before the end of the month.*

By the way, I started with Burpee! You can get a variety of Burpee Sunflower Seeds on Amazon. I have enjoyed the Autumn Beauty variety the most. The colors are quite outstanding!

And, now I have a 7 foot sunflower garden -- how about that? All from little Burpee sunflower seeds.

*UPDATE: I started The Sunflower Project on June 11, 2013. Within the first three days of the project, I had a number of early adopters - participants who signed up. I've sent out free packets of sunflower seeds to everyone on the list. Don't miss out! Add your name to this pay it forward project.


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2 comments:

  1. I remember watching sunflowers grow when I was little. I kept on waiting for the seeds to show up and had no idea you had to remove the top layer to get to the seeds :)

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  2. Well, I too wondered, "where the heck are all those sunflower seeds?" It's pretty amazing when you see how neatly packed they are within the honeycomb of the sunflower head. It's a marvel of Mother Nature for sure!

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