When to Harvest Sunflower Seeds
Basically, at the first sign of the birds eating them! Birds will not eat unripe sunflower seeds, but one morning you will wake up to lots of birds showing interest in the seeds. That is the moment to harvest them, if you wait until that evening they will likely be all gone! If you cannot be as vigilant as a permanently placed scare crow, you will want to protect your sunflowers from birds by other means. Cut a small piece of row cover or re-may to cover the seed head and using a metal twist tie, bind it to the stem of the sunflower. The re-may allows air flow while excluding birds. On a larger scale, bird netting is used to cover the entire to crop but cannot be use on individual heads as the birds will easily sneak out the small seeds between the openings. You can either harvest the seeds immediately and spread them onto a cookie sheet for drying, or you can dry down the entire head and harvest them later. In either case the seeds carry a lot of moisture so they need to be in a warm, sunny place for a few weeks before final storage.