Frequently Asked Question!
We actually develop all of the sunflower varieties that we sell by conventional plant breeding. No genetic engineering, no GMO. It’s a long process that takes at least 7 years from start to finish before we can produce the seeds. We don’t sell any varieties released by other breeders or seed companies. We constantly incorporate new traits into our flowers to bring you novel kinds of sunflowers for your pleasure and to expand the sunflower cut flower opportunities.
Sunflower can be planted over a wide range of planting dates starting in the early spring. A soil temperature of about 50 F (10 C) is required for germination. You should check your local weather data to learn the average date of the last frost in your growing area. If you wait a few weeks beyond that date, you can begin to plant. Seedlings will tolerate a light frost, but more advanced plants are killed by frost. I figure when the trees start to flower and show green, I can begin to plant. And you can continue planting well into summer at least until about 75 days before the first frost. In parts of Southern California and Florida, some growers can plant in the winter months if they are frost free.
The biggest problem most people have with planting any seed is they either plant them too shallow or too deep. “Too shallow” means the seeds might imbibe water, swell, and begin to germinate only to have the soil lose moisture. This, of course, causes the developing seedling to die because it, too, dries out. “Too deep” means that the seedling just does not have enough “ooomph” to make it out of the soil. It uses all of its stored energy reserves trying to elongate and push through the soil only to fail before it can reach sunlight and start photosynthesizing. Crusted or compacted soil aggravates the problem and traps the seedling underground where it dies or succumbs to soil pathogens or pests. We always plant our sunflowers less than 2 inches deep (5 cm) for large seeds, and 1 inch (2.5 cm) for smaller seeds.
The hulls are primarily fiber. Eating a lot of the hulls could conceivably cause one to become impacted. If not chewed properly, the sharp pieces of shell could possibly puncture or attach to the linings of the esophagus or digestive tract. Medical literature confirms a number of cases in children where impaction has occurred due to eating sunflower shells. Visit the Health & Nutrition section of our site to find out more about the nutritional value of the sunflower seed/kernel.
The cultivated sunflower has only one flower or head. But the wild cousins found growing in ditches and other areas throughout much of North America have multiple flowers and heads. Multiples of 20 and more heads are common. The ‘wilds’ are the genetic basis of today’s domesticated sunflower.Once emerged, your seedlings can be mowed down by cutworms, snails and earwigs, for example. Insects like sprouts, too. We use a bit of insect bait around the planting area just to be sure. Finally, watch for birds. When the sunflower seedlings are pushing through the soil, the hulls frequently adhere to the young plants. A bird sees the hull as a seed waiting to be eaten. They peck the seeds and break the stems of the seedling. You might try a length of wire mesh, bent at a right angle and placed over your planting area. Rarely do birds attack sunflower seedlings once they are established.
A sunflower kernel is the ‘meat’ of sunflower seed. When you buy sunflower kernels, it means the processor has mechanically removed the hull. The kernel is now in a convenient form to be sold raw, roasted for snacking, or used as an ingredient. When you buy sunflower seeds, this means the seed is left intact with the ‘meat’ of the seed still in the shell. It is normally roasted and seasoned and eaten as a snack by cracking the shell with one’s teeth, discarding the hull and eating the delicious morsel within. View our recipes to find fantastic ways in which to incorporate sunflower kernels into your lifestyle.