How to Harvest & Dry Out Sunflower Seeds


An excellent natural protein source that is full of calcium and potassium, sunflower seeds are a favorite treat for people and animals. Varieties such as Mammoth, Paul Bunyan Hybrid, Aztec Gold Hybrid and Super Snack Hybrid are all desirable for producing edible seeds. Harvesting and drying sunflower seeds is an easy project, with a little patience and a few helpful hints.

Step 1

Check the sunflowers for harvest-ready cues. The front of the flower will reveal a head of large, chubby, white and black striped seeds. The back of the head should be a dry, brown color. Seeds should not be falling away from the head yet.

Step 2

Cut the sunflower stalk to a foot-long length with garden shears.

Step 3

Cover the head with cheesecloth, which will gather seeds during the drying and shedding process.

Step 4

Hang cut sunflower heads upside in a dry place with good air circulation. Allow the heads to dry and the seeds to fall into the cheesecloth.

Step 5

Harvest fully dried seeds either from the cheesecloth after dropping, or by gently raking your fingers against the dried head until the seed falls away. Dried seeds are light in weight and detach from the head easily when disturbed.

Step 6

Dried seeds may roasted or boiled. To roast seeds, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Spread the dried seeds out on a shallow pan. Bake for up to 15 minutes. Boil seeds covered in water, adding up to 1/2 cup of salt per 2 quarts water, for two hours. Drain and spread seeds out to dry on paper towels. Store seeds in sealed, air-tight containers.

Tips and Warnings

  • As with any home-grown produce, be sure that your sunflowers have not been sprayed with insecticide or chemically treated prior to harvesting and consuming the seeds.

Things You'll Need

  • Sunflowers
  • Cheesecloth
  • Garden shears
  • Twine


  • University of Illinois Extension: Harvesting and Handling Sunflowers
  • Clemson University Cooperative Extension: Drying Herbs, Seeds and Nuts
  • Oregon State University Extension: How to Collect, Dry and Roast Squash and Sunflower Seeds

Who Can Help

  • Burpee Seeds and Plants: All About Sunflowers
Keywords: drying sunflower seeds, harvesting sunflower seeds, sunflower seeds storage

About this Author

Desirae Roy holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, with a focus on reading and special education. Also an interpreter for the deaf, she facilitates communication for students who learn in an inspiring way. Roy cultivates a life long love of learning and enjoys sharing her journey with others through writing.