How to Tell If Sunflower Seeds Are Ready to Harvest


Sunflowers are not only beautiful to look at as they grow, they also offer a wonderful snack food at the end of their growing season. Sunflower seeds can be eaten raw or toasted and are an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium. Knowing when the seeds are ready to harvest is the key to getting the most seeds from your plants without having to share them with the birds.

Step 1

Watch for the petals, or rays, of the sunflower plant to begin falling off the seed head. This is your first sign that the seeds are nearing harvest time.

Step 2

Cut the seed heads from the plant when the center of the seed head turns yellow. Cut the stem 1 to 2 inches below the seed head on the plant.

Step 3

Place the seed heads, seed side up, on newspapers laid out in a well-ventilated area, such as a garage or porch.

Step 4

Harvest the sunflower seeds from the head when the center of the seed head turns a dark brown. You can do this simply by rubbing two seed heads together over newspaper or a large bowl.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors or a sharp knife
  • Newspaper


  • University of Minnesota: Sunflowers
  • University of Massachusetts: Grow and Harvest Sunflower Seeds
  • The World's Healthiest Foods: Sunflower seeds
Keywords: harvest sunflowers, sunflower seed harvesting, seeds harvest ready

About this Author

G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.