pre-poem research – The Bushel

All writers do research. Always. Sometimes it is called “daydreaming,” but it is still research.

Sometimes it is browsing, a word adopted by websters and heightened by the invention of google and wikipedia into an art form.

Today I need to know about pecks and bushels. How much is a peck? How much peck could a woodpecker peck? Here’s what I found out, which will now live somewhere in the dusty second-hand store I call a brain until I can spout it at an opportune but usually unimportant moment.

The Bushel

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. 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
o USA: 32 lb = 14.5150 kg
o Canada: 34 lb = 15.4221 kg
* Barley: 48 lb = 21.7724 kg
* Malted barley: 34 lb = 15.4221 kg
* Shelled maize (corn) at 15.5% moisture by weight: 56 lb = 25.4012 kg
* Wheat at 13.5% moisture by weight and soybeans at 13% moisture by weight: 60 lb = 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 [seriously? hair?], and many other commodities.

Government policy in 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”.


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