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Last updated: 2022, March 19


Storage of sunflower seeds





Dr. Oleksii Orlov



Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov


Storage of commercial oilseed sunflower seeds (for the subsequent production of sunflower oil) is much more difficult than storage of cereal grains crops (wheat, barley and corn), since sunflower seeds are more susceptible to deterioration in quality and during storage it is more difficult to control pests.

The storage of oilseeds and sunflower seeds in particular requires a planned approach, careful management and a suitable storage system.

Next, we will look at simple principles that will allow you to preserve the quality of sunflower seeds during storage. These principles also apply to the storage of other oilseeds: rapeseed, mustard, flax and soybeans.

Sunflower growers must use air drying and cooling to successfully manage seed moisture and temperature during harvest, post-harvest processing and storage of sunflower seeds.

Also, the quality of sunflower oil is highly dependent on the storage conditions of sunflower seeds.

Since the quality of seeds and fat in them depends on the storage conditions.


Key requirements for storage and drying of sunflower seeds:

  • air drying and cooling provides high-quality storage of sunflower seeds in wide ranges of  humidity and ambient temperatures

  • optimum humidity for storing oilseed sunflower seeds with an oil content of 40% - about 9%

  • optimum humidity for storing sunflower seeds with an oil content of ≥50% - about 7.5%

  • the moisture content of sunflower seeds can be reduced by 2-3% or more per week (depending on the ambient temperature, its humidity and the presence of wind), when drying in the open air (usually under a canopy)

Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

After harvesting, sunflower seeds are dried and cleaned of impurities under a covered canopy, Ukraine. So the seeds can be dried in dry weather, when the air is dry and warm


  • for drying and aeration in the silo, it is necessary to have a fan / aerator with an air flow rate of more than 15 liters per second per ton (l/s/t), while cooling the seeds with air requires an air flow of 2 to 4 l/s/t.

  • air cooling of sunflower seeds, can reduce the temperature of the seeds when stored by more than 10°C for two to three days

  • the quality of the sunflower oil contained in the seeds can only be maintained at a constant level if the drying and cooling with air is properly controlled


In the case of sunflower production in areas of insufficient and medium moisture, it is imperative to provide for the possibility of installing a drying on the farm.

Also, the presence of drying is important if pre-harvest desiccation is carried out and the sunflower is harvested with high humidity.

Also, high moisture content of sunflower will be at an early start of harvesting.


Sunflower seeds cleaning

The main task when setting up harvesters and post-harvest cleaning of sunflower seeds is to bring the contamination to standard indicators (in cleaned sunflower seeds, a garbage admixture is allowed - no more than 1%), therefore, to achieve such indicators, mechanical impurities, plant residues, etc. should be removed...

Before cleaning, in dry weather, sunflower seeds are dried under well-ventilated canopies. Leakage of water is not allowed.

In this case, the mass of sunflower seeds should be well ventilated, and should not be heated from the inside.

To improve the drying conditions, the sunflower seeds are constantly moved and cleaned from light impurities using various machines for cleaning and moving grain.


Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

When drying sunflower seeds under a canopy, they are constantly moved for drying and cleaning from lightweight impurities using grain throwers. In the photo ZM-60


For primary cleaning, various machines for grain cleaning are used:  Petkus, Cimbria, etc..


Seeds cleaners: on the left - Petkus V 12 ( on the right - Cimbria Mega Cleaner ( Can be an integral part of complexes for cleaning and drying of sunflower seeds


It is economically feasible to create a complex (plant) on the basis of the farm, which would combine: primary cleaning, drying and automatic transportation of grain to the storage location.

If sunflower seeds come from the field are wet, then they are first dried, together with all the impurities, and only after drying, they are cleaned of impurities.

It is necessary to constantly maintain the temperature regime of drying, and not to allow the seeds to overheat more than 55 ° C.

When drying varietal sunflower seeds that will be prepared for sowing, drying modes should be even softer...


Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

Containers for drying varietal sunflower seeds


Most of modern dryers operate in automatic mode, which allows you to set the most optimal parameters for drying of sunflower seeds.

Under existing conditions, most farmers prefer to create special complexes for grain processing, including: a dryer, machines for primary cleaning of seeds, bunkers for aeration, storage bins for cleaned seeds, conveyors, etc.

After drying, the sunflower seeds are moved to the storage location using a frontal loader tractor (it is better to use a front loader with a bucket of 3-4 m3) and a dump truck, a tractor with a trailer, or using automatic conveyors, which is most expedient and profitable from an economic point of view.


Photo source Petkus

Conveyors allow you to move the cleaned and dried sunflower seeds to a storage location. In the photo: conveyor for grain Petkus ТКF 200 / TKF 300


Photo source GRDC

Also, to move sunflower seeds (loading and unloading), you can use special mobile conveyors of various types. Pictured is a mobile conveyor for loading seeds into a silo


Drying and cooling of sunflower seeds using aeration.

In conditions where the harvesting humidity does not differ much from the basic indicators required for storage in silos or warehouses that are equipped with forced ventilation (aeration), then after preliminary cleaning, sunflower seeds can be loaded into the silo for storage and regular ventilation until the required indicators of moisture and temperature of seeds.


Photo source GRDC

Fan / aerator built into a small silo



Fan / aerator attached to steel silo


Usually, for storage and aeration of sunflower seeds, silos are used, equipped with special fans that pump air into the silo.

The air, passing through the mass of sunflower seeds that is in the silo, promotes the evaporation of moisture from the seeds and cools it.

Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

Silo aeration scheme. When using aeration, the air passing through the silo helps to remove moisture and reduce the temperature of the entire mass of seeds stored in the silo.


For long-term storage of sunflower seeds, various silos are used: made of concrete or steel.

Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

Concrete silos are strong and durable compared to metal silos, but the costs of their construction or reconstruction are much higher


It is better to equip silos with special sensors that automatically measure temperature and humidity, which makes it possible to quickly respond to any changes in seed storage parameters.

Periodically (every 1-2 months), it is necessary to carry out forced ventilation with dry air of the mass of seeds, which is stored. This allows you to equalize the temperature, moisture content of the seeds, preserve and maintain its viability and quality.


Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

Storage of sunflower seeds using the vertical method is carried out in metal or concrete silos. Optimal temperature, humidity and hygiene and pest control must be maintained



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Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

Sunflower agronomy consulting and fields scouting





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