Ask a Question forum: Harvested sunflower seeds have larvae, can i still save my batch?

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New York (Zone 5a)
Aug 26, 2016 4:29 AM CST
Hello I have a question on harvesting sunflower seeds. This is my first time harvesting for roasting. I had picked the head and let it hang for several days it is now green yellow with seeds starting to fall out. I decided to harvest the seeds for roasting, but I noticed many of the seeds had holes and little reddish larvae were crawling out along with these miniscule red beetles. Is this batch a bust? Or can I still pick out the undamaged seeds for roasting? Thank you.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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Aug 26, 2016 6:45 AM CST
That sounds like a laborious task, but any seeds you can pick out without holes may be fine. The way to tell is to open a few that don't have holes, and see if the beetle larva is inside there. Sometimes they pupate inside and make the hole to escape.

IF they are all infested, you can still feed them to the birds, they will love the extra protein!

Good luck!

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator Plant Identifier Region: Nebraska Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Aug 26, 2016 12:08 PM CST

Plants Admin

I doubt you'll be able to tell which achenes are good versus which have insects in them just by looking. Generally, insects like this lay their eggs on the plant towards the end of its flowering period and the larvae enter the seed head early in its development. Often, the first clear sign of a problem is the holes the insects bore on their way out after they've eaten the seed.

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