Thursday, 12 August 2021

Nearly there.


The heads of the Sunflowers are becoming heavy, and with the extra weight they are all facing downwards towards the ground. Most are already about 1ft in diameter, and they are full of seeds.

The male plants have now been removed, and the female seeds are almost ready for harvesting. They will then be stored, and sold for sowing next year; maybe some will grow near you.


The male plants represent about a 10th of the crop, and are essential for fertilising the female plants, but at this time of year they are all destroyed. I still fail to see why the seeds are not harvested separately; the females for seed, and the males for oil. It does seem that by destroying all the male heads, they are not taking full advantage of the crop. Parrot food even!

The male plants are in separate rows so they can be easily destroyed (below). As male seeds are needed, I imagine there are other farmers elsewhere who specialise in growing the male seeds. Perhaps someone could enlighten me!


The plants will soon be 'treated' to make them die-off, then the combine-harvesters will come in to shake all the seeds out. 

Soon the Chestnuts will be ready to be harvested, and it'll be another growing year over.

33 comments:

  1. I didn´t know there are male and female sun flowers. And I never saw a sunflower field with a part of the flowers destroyed. So they sow sunflowers to get seeds to sow sunflowers to get seeds and so on? Without doing anything with the seeds other than sowing them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some grow seeds for seeds, others grow them for oil, and yet others grow them for Parrot food, or sprinkling on your Muesli. It's complicated out there in Farming world.

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  2. I suspect it's only the seed crops that are treated this way. The crop for oil and food will be sprayed with Roundup and combined when it's dead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They refer to it as a 'derivative of Agent Orange' here, which is why I ALWAYS buy Bio Sunflower oil.

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    2. It's Glyphosate. I don't know how they combine green stuff must be a nightmare of a job for organic farmers.

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    3. The organic people just let it die off naturally, as they did here originally. Now they want everything speeded up.

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  3. It seems to me that your locals are producing first cross hybrid seed. We used to do that to produce a particular variety of cabbage seed. It was formed from the cross of two varieties, but only the seeds of one of those varieties would produce the outcome you wanted. The other variety would have to be destroyed before harvest - they were only there to provide the pollen. The seeds on them would not have the desired hybrid values and so you don't want to them mixed with the harvest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That makes sense, but why not harvest the male seeds separately, and use them for something else.

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    2. They aren't male seeds - just a different variety with good pollen but inconsistent or poor results (lower oil content, smaller seeds, yucky taste, low yield - who knows. They just don't want them back in the seed distribution chain.)

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  4. Yikes. I didn't realise that the sunflower seeds that I have been eating all these years came from plants treated with Roundup.

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    Replies
    1. I'm not someone who always buys 'organic' products regardless, but for Sunflower Oil I would never buy any other.

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    2. Very sensible Cro. The more I learn about it, the more we are staying with Organic and Biodynamic produce. It may cost more but there are plenty of other things I can stop buying

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    3. Buy fewer but better quality foods. It pays in the end.

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  5. My mum used to grow sunflowers to feed the seeds to the cockies we had in the aviary. These days it is illegal here to keep large cockatoos in cages no matter how big the cages are. ours were half the backyard so the birds could fly around in them. We only had three birds.

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    Replies
    1. I've taken a few of the big male heads to dry for the birds. They love them.

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  6. Well, now I'll be reading up on sunflowers. Your post has given me lots and lots of questions.

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    Replies
    1. I hope one of your questions is 'Do the flowers follow the sun?'. The answer is No. They do before they fully flower, then once flowered they face due East.

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    2. Hah! THAT I did know. I read something once that the sunflowers not only followed followed the sun but that in the absence of the sun the turned to face each other. It was one of the 'Isn't nature wonderful?' Things that was supposed to give you the warm fizzles. I rained on the parade by pointing out that it wasn't so.

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  7. I had no idea about sunflowers Cro - I don't think we grow them in the UK yet - certainly not as far North as this, but if the world continues to get warmer then I expect the time will come.

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    Replies
    1. I have seen them growing in the UK (on TV), but they didn't look as healthy as the one's here.

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  8. To cheer you up, as you slide towards the depths of winter, it will be even worse in Old Blighty.

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  9. Very interesting facts about growing sunflowers. Rarely do I see sunflowers growing en mass in this area. Single stems (or pots) are sold at the garden centers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Along with Maize, it's now a major crop in this area.

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  10. I have one flower it’s 2 inches

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  11. Until I read this post I thought that each sunflower had both male and female features - not realising that male and female flowers could be quite different.

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    Replies
    1. The main different is in the seeds themselves, I believe the male seeds have a black spot; although I haven't actually delved myself.

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  12. Tigger is correct. Sunflowers have both the males and female parts in one flower. The seeds in the centre have both male and female parts and technically each one when blooming is a flower in its own right. There can be between 1000 and 5000 per head. The outer petals are know as ray florets. The centre comprises of two opposite helix of tiny flowers. They are easily visible with a magnifying glass. To produce an F1 hybrid, as tigger correctly points out, you need to plant the two varieties to cross pollinate. However one variety has unwanted characteristics and is destroyed.

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  13. I should add that this is also true of most non organic vegetable seeds too as they are mostly F1 hybrids too. For a better explanation I can recommend reading the realseeds website at www.realseeds.co.uk. Ben, one of the owners, is a geneticist. They also produce fabulous gmo free and open pollinating seeds. Note this isn't an advert I have no connection to them other than having purchased off them before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can second that about Real Seeds..quality!

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    ReplyDelete

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