A bushel is a unit of dry volume, usually subdivided into eight local gallons in the systems of Imperial units and U.S. customary units. It is used for volumes of dry commodities, not liquids, most often in agriculture. It is abbreviated as bsh. or bu. The name derives from the 14th century buschel or busschel, a box.[1]

  • 1 U.S. bushel = 8 corn/dry gallons = 2150.42 cu in = 35.23907016688 litres ≈ 9.309177 wine/liquid gallons. The original definition was the volume of a cylinder 18.5 inches in diameter and 8 inches high, which gives an irrational number of cubic inches or litres, but later this bushel was redefined as 2150.42 cubic inches, about 1 part per million less.
  • 1 Imperial bushel = 36.36872 litres = 8 Imperial gallons ≈ 2219.35546 cu. in.
  • 1 bushel = 4 pecks

Bushels are now most often used as units of mass or weight rather than of volume. The bushels in which grains are bought and sold on commodity markets or at local grain elevators, and for reports of grain production, are all units of weight.[2] This is done by assigning a standard weight to each commodity that is to be measured in bushels. These bushels depend on the commodities being measured and the moisture content. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Oats
    • USA: 32 lb[2] = 14.51495584 kg
    • Canada: 34 lb = 15.42214058 kg
  • Barley: 48 lb[2] = 21.77243376 kg
  • Malted barley: 34 lb = 15.42214058 kg
  • Shelled maize (corn) at 15.5% moisture by weight: 56 lb[2] = 25.40117272 kg
  • Wheat at 13.5% moisture by weight and soybeans at 13% moisture by weight: 60 lb[2] = 27.2155422 kg

Other specific values are defined (and those definitions may vary within different jurisdictions, including from state to state in the United States) for other grains, oilseeds, fruits, vegetables, coal, hair, and many other commodities.

Under the America COMPETES Act, the United States is to phase out units such as the bushel and replace them with the metric system as used for all purposes in the rest of the world, and for all scientific and technical purposes world wide. It is therefore important to know how the bushel relates to the metric equivalent, and whether the bushels are used as units of mass or units of volume.

The name "bushel" has also been used to translate non-US units of a similar size and sometimes shared origin, like the German "Scheffel".

History Edit

The bushel was originally a measure of capacity for grain. During the Middle Ages, the bushel of wheat was supposed to weigh 64 tower pounds, but when the tower system was abolished in the 16th century, it was described as 56 avoirdupois pounds. The bushel was rarely used in Scotland, Ireland or Wales during the Middle Ages.

Until and before the 19th century there were even more gallons in use. Examples:

1792 cu in
from the standard wine gallon preserved at Guildhall[3]
1848 cu in
statute of 5 Anne c47[4]
2118.4 cu in
ancient Rumford quart (1228)
2124 cu in
Exchequer (Henry VII, 1091, with rim)
2130 cu in
ancient Rumford (1228)
2150 cu in (approx.)
Winchester, statute 13 + 14 by William III.
2168 cu in − 16 spoonfuls
Exchequer (Henry VII., 1601, E.E.)
2168 cu in
Exchequer (1601, E.), corn
2176 cu in
corn (1688)
2217.44 cu in
coal, statute 12 of Anne
2224 cu in
Exchequer (Henry VII, with copper rim)
2227.2 cu in
Exchequer (1601 and 1602 pints)
2240 cu in
Exchequer (1601 quart)
2256 cu in
Treasury, being eight gallons for beer and ale[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. (1989) "Bushel", Oxford English Dictionary, Second. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 William J. Murphy. "Tables for Weights and Measurement: Crops". University of Missouri Extension. Retrieved on 2008-12-18.
  3. Reynardson, Samuel (1749), "A State of the English Weights and Measures of Capacity", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (London: The Royal Society) 46(491): p 54. 
  4. Reynardson (1749: 54; 56)
  5. Adams, John Quincy (1821). Report of the Secretary of State Upon Weights and Measures. Washington, DC: Gale and Seaton, 38. 

External links Edit

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