Can Market Growers Save Their Sunflower Seeds?

Are sunflowers good for #seedsavingformarketgrowers?

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Thereís the squirrels, the birds, and the children tearing up those mature heads to get the seeds.

But you can work your way around that by covering the flowers once they start to set seeds with onion bags. You can also cut the seed heads and set them to  dry indoors.

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And sunflowers are crossers. (All the pollinators know where your sunflowers are in the garden!)

So you need to decide whether to keep one true variety or to maintain a diversity of flower colours and heights and branching patterns in your population. 

(Isolate your varieties by 1000ft or so to avoid most crossing and keep multiple varieties true to type.)

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The real challenge is whether youíre growing F1 hybrid seed or open pollinated seed.

When youíre growing cut flowers for market, itís pretty hard to beat those F1 varieties for uniform heads and harvest dates. They are ready just when you need them.

But saving seed from F1 sunflowers will give you anything but uniform seed.

Thatís the pickle.

If you grow F1 sunflowers, skip on sunflowers for seed saving.

If you grow OP sunflowers, bring on the seeds (and the squirrels.)

The PROS of saving Sunflower seed:

  • Readily go to seed in your field
  • Easy to remove seeds from a few heads
  • Annual – from seed to seed in 1 season

The CONS of saving Sunflower seed:

  • Crossers gonna cross
  • Protect those seeds from critters
  • Most commercial varieties are NOT open pollinated

SEED YIELD:

5 lbs to 20 lbs from a 100ft bed

SEED LIFE:

3 years (probably longer)


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