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Queensland Government Standard Imperial Bushel. Queensland Museum
General information
Unit systemimperial and US customary
Unit ofvolume
Symbolbsh, bu
Conversions (imperial)
1 imp bsh in ...... is equal to ...
   imperial units   8 imperial gallons
   metric units   36.36872 L
   US dry units   8.2565 US dry gallons
   US liquid units   9.6076 US liquid gallons
   imperial/US units   2219.36 cu in
Conversions (US)
1 US bsh in ...... is equal to ...
   US dry units   8 US dry gallons
   metric units   35.2391 L
   US liquid units   9.3092 US liquid gallons
   imperial units   7.7515 imperial gallons
   imperial/US units   2150.42 cu in
A full bushel is represented by a basket in the lower right.

A bushel (abbreviation: bsh. or bu.) is an imperial and US customary unit of volume based upon an earlier measure of dry capacity. The old bushel is equal to 2 kennings (obsolete), 4 pecks, or 8 dry gallons, and was used mostly for agricultural products, such as wheat. In modern usage, the volume is nominal, with bushels denoting a mass defined differently for each commodity.

The name "bushel" is also used to translate similar units in other measurement systems.


The word "bushel" as originally used for a container itself, and later a unit of measurement. The name comes from the Old French boissiel and buissiel, meaning "little box".[1] It may further derive from Old French boise, thus meaning "little butt".[1]


The bushel is an intermediate value between the pound and ton or tun that was introduced to England following the Norman Conquest. Norman statutes made the London bushel part of the legal measure of English wine, ale, and grains. The Assize of Bread and Ale credited to Henry III, c. 1266, defined this bushel in terms of the wine gallon,[2] while the c. 1300 Assize of Weights and Measures usually credited to Edward I or II defined the London bushel in terms of the larger corn gallon.[3] In either case, a London bushel was reckoned to contain 64 pounds, 12 ounces, 20 pennyweight, and 32 grains.

These measures were based on the relatively light tower pound and were rarely used in Scotland, Ireland, or Wales during the Middle Ages. When the Tower system was abolished in the 16th century, the bushel was redefined as 56 avoirdupois pounds.

The imperial bushel established by the Weights and Measures Act of 1824 described the bushel as the volume of 80 avoirdupois pounds of distilled water in air at 62 °F (17 °C)[citation needed] or 8 imperial gallons.[1] This is the bushel in some use in the United Kingdom. Thus, there is no distinction between liquid and dry measure in the imperial system.[according to whom?]

The Winchester bushel is the volume of a cylinder 18.5 in (470 mm) in diameter and 8 in (200 mm) high, which gives an irrational number of approximately 2150.4202 cubic inches.[4] The modern American or US bushel is a variant of this, rounded to exactly 2150.42 cubic inches, less than one part per ten million less.[5] It is also somewhat in use in Canada.[citation needed]

In English use, a Bushel was a willow basket with fixed dimensions. The basket was round. Its inside measurements were: Base diameter 12 inches, top diameter 18 inches, height 12 inches. A basket filled level to the top was a bushel. A basket filled to the top but overfilled to a height where it overflowed was considered to be a bushel and a peck, a generous measure (a similar concept to a baker's dozen). Hence, the old song " I love you, a bushel and a peck...." meant "I am overflowing with love for you". Sometimes the basket was made 13 inches high, but with a ring of "waling" (a special willow weaving technique) to mark the 12 inches height.


1 imperial bushel = 8 imperial gallons
= 4 imperial pecks
= 36.36872 litres
≈ 8.25645 US dry gallons
≈ 9.60760 US fluid gallons
2219.36 cubic inches
1.28435 cubic feet
1 US bushel [6] = 8 US dry gallons
= 4 US pecks
= 2150.42 cubic inches
= 1.24446 cubic feet
= 35.23907016688 litres
≈ 9.3092 US fluid gallons
≈ 7.7515 imperial gallons


A table of weights from the secretaries of the different states, showing the number of pounds which their laws recognize as a bushel of different articles, c. 1854.

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.[7] 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 on the moisture content of the commodity. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Oats:
    • US: 32 lb[7] (14.5150 kg)
    • Canada: 34 lb[8] (15.4221 kg)
  • Barley: 48 lb[7] (21.7724 kg)
  • Malted barley: 34 lb (15.4221 kg)
  • Shelled maize (corn) at 15.5% moisture by weight: 56 lb[7] (25.4012 kg)
  • Wheat at 13.5% moisture by weight: 60 lb[7] (27.2155 kg)
  • Soybeans at 13% moisture by weight: 60 lb[9] (27.2 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.

Government policy in the United States is to phase out units such as the bushel and replace them with metric mass equivalents.[10]

Other units[edit]

The German bushel is the Scheffel. A Prussian scheffel was equal to 54.96 litres.[11]

The Polish bushel (korzec) was used as measure of dry capacity. It is divided into 4 quarters (ćwierć) and in the early 19th century had a value of 128 litres in Warsaw[12] and 501.116 litres in Kraków.[13]

The Spanish bushel (fanega) was used as a measure of dry capacity. It is roughly equal to 55.5 litres in Castille.

The Welsh hobbit was equivalent to two-and-a-half bushels when used for volume; when used for measuring weight the hobbit was dependant on the grain being weighed.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "bushel, n.1", Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1888.
  2. ^ Ruffhead, Owen, ed. (1763), The Statutes at Large, vol.  I: From Magna Charta to the End of the Reign of King Henry the Sixth. To which is prefixed, A Table of the Titles of all the Publick and Private Statutes during that Time, London: Mark Basket for the Crown, pp. 22. (in English) & (in Latin)
  3. ^ Ruffhead, Owen, ed. (1763a), The Statutes at Large, vol.  I: From Magna Charta to the End of the Reign of King Henry the Sixth. To which is prefixed, A Table of the Titles of all the Publick and Private Statutes during that Time, London: Mark Basket for the Crown, pp. 148–149. (in English) & (in Latin) & (in Norman)
  4. ^ The volume of a cylinder is V = (π · r2 · h) with r = ½ · 18.5 inches, h = 8 inches.
  5. ^ The relative difference is 1 − 2150.42 / V = 0.797×10−7.
  6. ^ Judson, Lewis (1963). Weights and Measures Standards of the United States (PDF). Department of Commerce: NBS Special Publication. p. 35.
  7. ^ a b c d e William J. Murphy. "Tables for Weights and Measurement: Crops". University of Missouri Extension. Archived from the original on May 25, 2007. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  8. ^ Marketing Oats in Canada http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/sis10952
  9. ^ "Calculating Harvest Yields". Purdue University. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  10. ^ "48 CFR § 611.002-70 - Metric system implementation: US 1988 law on metrification". Cornell Law School. Ithaca, New York. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  11. ^ Lowis D'Aguilar Jackson (1882). Modern Metrology. p. 179.
  12. ^ Alexander, John Henry (1850), "Weight and Measure Systems: Warsaw", Universal Dictionary of Weights and Measures, Ancient and Modern; Reduced to the Standards of the United States of America, Baltimore: John D. Tot for Wm. Minifie & Co., pp. 151–152.
  13. ^ Rykaczewski, Erazm (1851), "Korzec", Dokładny Słownik Polsko-Anglielski i Anglielsko-Polski, Czerpany z Najlepszych Źrodeł Krajowych i Obcych, Berlin: W. Księgarni b. Behra, p. 98. (in Polish) & (in English)

External links[edit]