Have you ever wondered what happens to all of the sunflowers after the festival? We make sure to use the flowers to their full potential. When the festival is over,
the flowers start to wilt, drop their heads and dry out. The drying process usually takes until December, depending on the weather. Beginning in October the seeds are picked out of a flower head and put into a moisture tester to check the seeds moisture level. They are tested every few weeks until the levels are right. Once the seeds reach a moisture level of 9-10%, they can be harvested. We use a machine called a combine to harvest the seeds. The combine removes the seeds from the heads of the flowers, sending the seeds to the storage bin and the remaining stalk, leaves and rest of the plant out the back and onto the ground. Seeds are loaded into a dump truck so they can be taken to be cleaned and bagged.
We then deliver the seeds to Driver Seed Cleaning Services, in Harrisonburg, Va. There the seeds are “cleaned,” which entails running them over wire screens which shake back and forth to let debris fall through. The debris that falls through the wire is referred to as “screenings.” Once the seed and screenings have been separated the seed can be bagged. We have the seed put into 20-pound bags so they are more easily handled in the stores. After the seeds are bagged, they are placed on pallets and shrink wrapped for hauling back to the farm. The whole bagging process takes about 1-2 weeks.
When the bags of seed arrive back on the farm they are stored until we deliver them to retail stores for sale. Our main retailers include Northwest Hardware locations, Ikenberry Orchards and The Best Place Antique Store.