Why are my Sunflower Seeds White? Phenomenon Explained

Apart from enhancing the beauty of your garden, sunflowers are widely used for their seeds and oil. But growing sunflower seeds at your home requires patience and practice. One of the common issues with growing sunflower seeds is that they remain white. People often ask why are my sunflower seeds white?

The most probable reason for white sunflower seeds is they are harvested too soon. If sunflower seeds aren’t given enough time to mature fully, they remain white. But there are other factors that may affect the growth of sunflower seeds, leaving them white.

Why are my Sunflower Seeds White

Keep reading this article to learn other reasons which may turn sunflower seeds white. Additionally, I’ll provide information regarding the benefits and usage of white sunflower seeds, so make sure to scroll till the end.

Why Are My Sunflower Seeds White? 7 Probable Reasons

Getting white sunflower seeds isn’t uncommon. The key reason for white sunflower seeds is premature harvesting, but that’s not it.

Want to know what kept your sunflower seeds from maturing? Below are seven probable reasons you must know before planting your next batch-

1. You Planted Immature Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds mature in about eighty to ninety days (source). However, this period is subject to change. Based on weather conditions, they may grow faster or slower. If you see white sunflower seeds, there is a fair chance you planted immature seeds, which stopped them from growing to their full maturity.

2. You Chopped Off The Heads Too Early

Your sunflower seeds are white, maybe because their heads are cut off too early. If you chop off the heads before they turn brown or begin to jump, the sunflower seeds won’t mature.

3. You Picked Immature Seeds

Sunflower seeds remain white when you pick them while they are still green. Green sunflower seeds aren’t fully matured, so you’ll get white, tasteless, and less nutritious seeds.

4. Unprotected Sunflower Seeds

Another common reason for sunflower seeds turning white is they aren’t protected from birds, insects, or squirrels while harvesting. Sunflower seeds are a favorite bird food, so they would peck on them if you don’t keep them covered with a paper or net bag.

The damaged sunflower heads break the mature processing, ultimately stopping them from turning brown or black.

5. Drying The Seeds In Inappropriate Places

You should never dry the sunflower seeds stacked in your attic, basement, or any other moist, dark place. These won’t let the sunflower seeds mature, and in turn, they will remain white. Plus, drying them in such places may also make the sunflower seeds rot.

Additionally, sometimes even if you dry sunflower seeds under the sun, the outer layer may turn brown, but the inside remains white.

6. Shelling The Skin Too Early

If you shell the seeds before they are completely dry or before roasting, you may get white mushy sunflower seeds. Roast it with the shells and let it dry well to avoid getting tasteless white seeds.

7. Roasting Sunflower Seeds At A High Temperature

You should never roast the sunflower seeds at high temperatures with or without the shell. Doing so makes them white and ruins their nutritional value as well. The ideal temperature to roast sunflower seeds is 300°F for approximately 30 to 40 minutes.

Benefits of White Sunflower Seeds: Why You Should Consume Them

Benefits of White Sunflower Seeds

If you’re on the hunt for a healthy snack, there is nothing better than munching on white sunflower seeds. There are plenty of benefits these seeds offer, especially when consumed in winter. Below listed are some health benefits of white sunflower seeds.

1. Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

White sunflower seeds are rich in multiple vitamins and minerals. These include Vitamin E, B1, B6, selenium, iron, copper, and more. Regular but moderate consumption of these seeds will help you with better eyesight and skin. Also, these seeds can improve the body’s natural strength.

2. Helps Prevent Several Diseases

These white and crunchy seeds can help prevent the risk of several chronic diseases, including diabetes type-2. Moreover, controlled consumption is beneficial in keeping cholesterol levels under control.

3. Improved Immunity

The human body has the ability to fight diseases naturally. However, over time the immunity takes a dip, and the body becomes prone to several diseases. White sunflower seeds have the essential vitamins and nutrients required to improve immunity (source).

An Important Note: White sunflower seeds are quite high in calories, so be mindful of the quantity. Also, most packaged white sunflower seeds are salted, so eating them in moderation will keep your sodium intake in control as well.

What is the Difference Between White & Black Sunflower Seeds?

White vs Black Sunflower Seeds

Image Credit: Flickr

The color is the most obvious difference between white and black sunflower seeds. Since the black sunflower seeds are fully matured, they turn dark with white stripes on them, which the white sunflower seeds lack.

But apart from their appearance, both the varieties have nutritional differences. Since black sunflower seeds get the time to mature properly, they have more nutritional value as they are packed with more vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats.

White sunflower seeds taste lighter than black ones. Plus, the oil content in white sunflower seeds is less because they are not given enough time to mature fully.

White sunflower seeds are low in calories compared to black seeds, so if you are trying to keep your calorie intake in check, you may opt for the white ones.

Are White Sunflower Seeds Plantable?

Most gardeners often ask, can I plant white sunflower seeds? Or if white sunflower seeds are plantable. No, white sunflower seeds are not plantable.

Since these are immature seeds, most likely, they won’t bloom even if you plant them. White seeds are harvested too soon to let them grow properly; therefore, these won’t turn into plants even if you take proper care.

Moreover, most white sunflower seeds are hollow from the inside, so there is no point in wasting your time and energy planting them.

What To Do With White Sunflower Seeds?

Although white sunflower seeds aren’t good enough to grow more plants, they are totally edible. You can eat white sunflower seeds raw, use them in your baked goods like bread or cakes, use them in your salad dressings, replace nuts with white sunflower seeds in pesto, and roast the seeds.

If you plan to roast the white sunflower seeds, don’t let them dry too much. If they are dried too much already, soak them overnight before roasting. To get the perfect roasted white sunflower seeds, place them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven at 300°F for thirty minutes. Don’t forget to toss in between.

Tips for Harvesting Sunflower Seeds Correctly

White sunflower seeds are a result of improper harvesting. Thus, it is important to understand how to harvest these seeds to turn them black and delicious. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Wait Until the Sunflower is Wilted

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

Many people cut the seed before the flower wilts, and this is a reason why the seeds turn white. Have a close look at the flower; if it still looks bright and has a green stalk, the seed is not mature yet. Only cut the flower when it is completely wilted and is dying.

2. Let the Seed Dry Fully

After you have extracted the seed, let it dry completely. Avoid putting the seeds in direct sunlight because this is not the best approach, and the seeds may turn white.

Instead, choose a warm area, and hang the sunflower seeds by putting them in a cloth. Wait for 3-4 days for the seeds to dry fully.

3. Clean and Dry before Roasting

Now you have those black and crunchy seeds ready to be roasted. Place the seeds on a large area and expose them to warm air. Wait at least 24 hours before roasting the seeds.

Here’s an informative video by My Amazing Ideas on how to roast sunflower seeds.

[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhYl5OKTe28″ width=”640″]

4. Store

The last step is storing the roasted seeds so that they remain crispy and delicious. Keep the seeds in an airtight container and store them for one season only. You can even put the container into a refrigerator to extend the shelf-life of the sunflower seeds.


Q1: Should Sunflower Seeds Be White?

No, sunflower seeds shouldn’t be white. Fully matured sunflower seeds have a brown or black coating with white stripes.

Q2: How To Mature White Sunflower Seeds?

You can let the white sunflower seeds dry in an open space or roast them to ripen the seeds. Don’t remove the husk before roasting, as it may make the white sunflower seeds mushy.

Q3: What Birds Eat White Striped Sunflower Seeds?

Birds like woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, grosbeaks, house sparrows, purple finch, spotted towhee, etc., eat white striped sunflower seeds. White striped sunflower seeds have hard shells, so they are best for big birds or birds with strong beaks.

Final Thoughts

Hope you got your answer to why are my sunflower seeds white in the above article. The bottom line is you have to give your sunflower seeds enough time to mature, protect them from seed eating birds or animals, and follow proper drying techniques.

Even though they are immature, white sunflower seeds are completely edible, filled with nutrients and healthy fat. So if you got a bag full of white sunflower seeds, don’t throw them in the trash bin; they are great for snacking.

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