Bushel

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This article is about the units of measurement. For surnames and other uses, see Bushell and Scheffel (disambiguation).
bushel
Queensland Government Imperial Bushel AD1875.jpg
Queensland Government Standard Imperial Bushel. Queensland Museum
Unit information
Unit system imperial and US customary
Unit of volume
Symbol bsh or bu 
Unit conversions (imperial)
1 imp bsh in ... ... is equal to ...
   imperial units    gal
   metric units    36.36872 L
   US dry units    8.2565 gal
   imperial/US units    2219.36 cu in
Unit conversions (US)
1 US bsh in ... ... is equal to ...
   US dry units    8 gal
   metric units    35.2391 L
   imperial units    7.7515 gal
   imperial/US units    2150.42 cu in
A full bushel is lower right represented by a basket.

A bushel (abbreviation: bsh. or bu.) is an imperial and US customary unit of weight or mass based upon an earlier measure of dry capacity. The old bushel was equal to 4 pecks or 8 gallons and was used mostly for agricultural products such as wheat. Presently, the volume is usually only nominal, with bushels referring to standard quantities of mass instead. Two pecks make a kenning (obsolete), and four pecks make a bushel.

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

Name[edit]

The name is an anglicization of the Old French boissiel and buissiel, meaning "little box".[1] It may further derive from Old French boise, thus meaning "little butt".[1]

History[edit]

The bushel is an intermediate value between the pound and ton or tun that was introduced 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, the bushel was reckoned to contain 64 pounds of 12 ounces of 20 pence of 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) or 2218.192 cubic inches.[1] (36,349.654 cc) This is the bushel in some use in the United Kingdom.

The Winchester bushel was the volume of a cylinder 18.5 in (46.99 cm) in diameter and 8 in (20.32 cm) high, which gives an irrational number of cubic inches. The modern American or US bushel is a variant of this, simplified to a measure of exactly 2150.42 cubic inches, about one part per ten million less. It is also somewhat in use in Canada.

Volume[edit]

1 imperial bushel  = 8 imperial gallons
= 4 imperial pecks
= 36.36872 litres
≈ 8.2565 US dry gallons
≈ 9.6076 US fluid gallons
2219.36 cubic inches
 
1 US bushel  = 8 US dry gallons
= 4 US pecks
= 2150.42 cubic inches
≈ 9.3092 US fluid gallons
35.2391 litres
≈ 7.7515 imperial gallons

Weight[edit]

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.[4] 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[4] = 14.5150 kg
    • Canada: 34 lb[5] = 15.4221 kg
  • Barley: 48 lb[4] = 21.7724 kg
  • Malted barley: 34 lb = 15.4221 kg
  • Shelled maize (corn) at 15.5% moisture by weight: 56 lb[4] = 25.4012 kg
  • Wheat at 13.5% moisture by weight and soybeans at 13% moisture by weight: 60 lb[4] = 27.2155 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.

Other units[edit]

The German bushel was the Scheffel.

The Polish bushel (korzec) was used as measure of dry capacity. It was divided into 4 quarters (ćwierć) and in the early 19th century had a value of 128 liters in Warsaw[6] and 501.116 L in Kraków.[7] 30 bushels made up a last.

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

See also[edit]

References[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 . (English) & (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 . (English) & (Latin) & (Norman French)
  4. ^ a b c d e William J. Murphy. "Tables for Weights and Measurement: Crops". University of Missouri Extension. Retrieved 18 December 2008. 
  5. ^ Marketing Oats in Canada http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/sis10952
  6. ^ 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 .
  7. ^ 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 . (Polish) & (English)

External links[edit]