bushel vs peck

The Difference Between Bushel and Peck Measurements

When it comes to measuring quantities of fruits, vegetables, or grains, you may have come across terms like “bushel” and “peck.” These are traditional units of measurement that have been used for centuries. In this article, we will explore the difference between bushel and peck measurements, their origins, and how they are used today.

What is a Bushel?

A bushel is a unit of volume used for measuring dry goods, such as grains, fruits, and vegetables. It is commonly used in agricultural contexts and is still prevalent in many parts of the world. The exact volume of a bushel can vary depending on the type of produce being measured.

In the United States, a bushel is typically equivalent to 35.2 liters or 9.31 gallons. However, this may differ in other countries. For example, in the United Kingdom, a bushel is equal to 36.4 liters or 9.6 gallons.

What is a Peck?

A peck is another unit of volume used for measuring dry goods. It is smaller than a bushel and is often used for smaller quantities of produce. Like the bushel, the exact volume of a peck can vary depending on the region or country.

In the United States, a peck is equivalent to 8 dry quarts or approximately 9.08 liters. However, in the United Kingdom, a peck is equal to 9.1 liters.

Origins and Usage

The terms “bushel” and “peck” have a long history and can be traced back to medieval England. They were commonly used to measure grain and other agricultural products. The word “bushel” is derived from the Old French word “boissiel,” meaning “little box.” The term “peck” comes from the Middle English word “pec,” which means “pitch” or “container.”

These measurements were important for trade and commerce, as they provided a standardized way to quantify and sell agricultural products. They allowed buyers and sellers to agree on a specific amount, ensuring fair transactions.

Modern Usage

In modern times, the use of bushels and pecks has become less common in everyday life. However, they still have significance in certain industries, particularly in agriculture and farming. Farmers may use these measurements to determine crop yields, estimate storage capacity, or calculate pricing.

Additionally, bushels and pecks are sometimes used in traditional markets or farm stands, where produce is sold in bulk. Some consumers may also encounter these measurements when purchasing fruits or vegetables directly from farmers.


While the terms “bushel” and “peck” may not be as prevalent in everyday conversation today, their historical significance and continued usage in specific industries cannot be overlooked. Understanding these measurements can be helpful when dealing with agricultural products, especially for those involved in farming, trade, or purchasing fresh produce directly from farmers.

Conversion Factors

It’s worth noting that bushels and pecks are not universally standardized measurements. The exact volume of a bushel or peck can vary depending on the country or region. For example, in Canada, a bushel is equivalent to 35.2391 liters, while in Australia, it is 36.3687 liters.

If you need to convert between bushels and pecks, or any other units of volume, there are conversion factors you can use. Here are a few commonly used conversion factors:

  • 1 bushel = 4 pecks
  • 1 bushel = 32 dry quarts
  • 1 bushel = 64 pints
  • 1 peck = 8 dry quarts
  • 1 peck = 16 pints

These conversion factors can help you accurately convert between bushels and pecks, or any other related measurements, depending on your specific needs.

Symbolic Use

Beyond their practical usage, bushels and pecks have also found their way into idiomatic expressions and colloquial usage. For example, the phrase “a bushel and a peck” is often used to express a large quantity or a great amount of something. It has become a way to convey affection or deep appreciation for someone or something.

This phrase has its origins in the popular song from the 1950s musical “Guys and Dolls,” where a character sings, “I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.”

In Summary

Bushels and pecks are traditional units of measurement used to quantify dry goods, particularly in the agricultural industry. While their usage has diminished in everyday life, they still hold importance in certain contexts, such as farming, trade, and direct sales of produce. Understanding the difference between bushels and pecks, as well as their historical significance, can provide valuable insights into the world of agricultural measurements and practices.

Common Uses of Bushels and Pecks

While bushels and pecks may not be widely used in everyday conversation, they still have practical applications in various industries. Here are a few common uses of these measurements:

Agriculture and Farming:

Farmers often rely on bushels and pecks to determine crop yields and estimate storage capacity. These measurements help them assess the quantity of harvested grains, fruits, or vegetables and plan for storage or transportation needs. Additionally, when selling their produce, farmers may use bushels or pecks as a unit of measure to determine pricing.

Food Processing and Packaging:

In the food processing industry, bushels and pecks can be used to measure ingredients or finished products. For example, when producing canned fruits or vegetables, the quantity of produce required for each batch may be measured in bushels or pecks. Similarly, when packaging goods for retail, manufacturers may use these measurements to ensure consistent quantities in each package.

Orchards and Vineyards:

In orchards and vineyards, bushels and pecks are often used to estimate yields and plan harvests. Farmers can assess the volume of fruits, such as apples or grapes, by measuring them in bushels or pecks. This information helps them manage resources, such as labor and storage facilities, effectively.

Farmers Markets and Local Produce Stands:

At farmers markets or local produce stands, you might come across vendors who still use bushels or pecks to sell their fresh fruits and vegetables. These traditional measurements add a touch of nostalgia and authenticity to the experience of buying directly from the farmers. It also allows customers to purchase produce in larger quantities, ideal for canning, preserving, or sharing with family and friends.


While bushels and pecks may have lost some of their prominence in everyday life, they continue to play a role in specific industries and contexts. Understanding the difference between these measurements, their conversion factors, and their historical significance can provide valuable insights into the world of agricultural measurements and practices.

Historical Significance and Cultural References

Bushels and pecks have not only left their mark on the world of measurements but have also found their way into literature, idiomatic expressions, and cultural references. Let’s explore some of their historical significance and cultural associations:

Biblical References:

The terms “bushel” and “peck” have even made their way into biblical references. In the Bible, specifically in the New Testament, the phrase “Do you hide a bushel under a peck measure?” is used metaphorically to emphasize the importance of sharing one’s talents and not hiding them away. This reference highlights the symbolic significance of these measurements in conveying messages about abundance, generosity, and utilizing one’s potential.

Traditional Sayings and Expressions:

As mentioned earlier, the phrase “a bushel and a peck” has become a popular saying used to express affection or love for someone. It has been adopted into songs, poems, and everyday language. This expression signifies a deep and immeasurable amount of love or fondness for someone, emphasizing the abundance of emotions one feels towards another.

Historical Trade and Commerce:

In the past, when bushels and pecks were widely used, they played a crucial role in trade and commerce. These measurements provided a standardized way to quantify and sell agricultural products, ensuring fair transactions. They were essential for establishing market prices, determining taxes, and facilitating trade between regions and countries.

Folklore and Traditional Practices:

In various cultures, bushels and pecks have been associated with folklore, traditional practices, and rituals. For example, in some harvest festivals or agricultural celebrations, these measurements are used to represent abundance and prosperity. They symbolize the bountiful harvest and the rewards of hard work in farming and cultivating the land.

Appreciating the Legacy of Bushels and Pecks

While the practical usage of bushels and pecks may have diminished in modern times, their historical significance and cultural associations continue to resonate. Understanding the origins of these measurements and their impact on various aspects of society can deepen our appreciation for the traditions and practices that have shaped our agricultural heritage.

So, the next time you hear the terms “bushel” and “peck,” remember the rich history and cultural references behind these measurements. They are not just units of volume but symbols of abundance, love, and the interplay between humans and the natural world.


So, the next time you encounter the terms “bushel” and “peck,” you’ll have a better understanding of their meanings, their common uses, and their relevance in various sectors. Whether you’re a farmer, a food processor, or a consumer at a local market, knowing these measurements can help you navigate the world of agricultural products more effectively.

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