What Exactly Is a Bushel? The Question Turns People Into Basket Cases

Here’s a great article from the Wall Street Journal about the complexities of measuring and trading in bushels. We all use the term frequently when describing grain bin capacities, but when using the term to trade large quantities or set commodity prices, the actual calculations become quite involved and the quantity traded can become pretty ‘abstract’ as described in the article below.

The Winchester bushel, named for a British town, dates back centuries.

Picture of a bushel of soybeans

Prices of agricultural commodities are quoted that way, even though many have never actually come across the baskets; ‘kind of an abstract amount’

Soybean prices have long been quoted in bushels at the Chicago Board of Trade.

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Lucy Craymer

Trade tensions between the U.S. and China this year have caused gyrations in soybean prices, which recently climbed above $9 a bushel. They also have people buried in soybean math.

Prices of agricultural commodities have for decades been quoted in bushels at the Chicago Board of Trade, yet many traders and farmers have never actually come across soybeans in the quaint wooden basket that has existed for centuries.

“Most people haven’t seen a bushel basket—I never have,” said Anthony Stinton, a soybean meal trader in Greeley, Colo. Scrawled on a yellow sticky-note on his computer is a formula he punches into a calculator multiple times a day to convert metric tons of soybeans grown in Brazil into their American bushel equivalent. “It’s kind of an abstract amount,” Mr. Stinton said.

A bushel of soybeans is roughly enough dry beans to fill eight gallons or 2,150.42 cubic inches of space, the capacity of a traditional bushel basket. That is the equivalent of 60 pounds of soybeans. In the Bible, bushels were used as containers for grains, seeds and flour. At farm stands and markets, bushels can be found filled with apples, crabs and raw vegetables. The phrase “a bushel and a peck” is fairly well known thanks to a popular “Guys and Dolls” song. (A peck is a quarter of a bushel, or eight quarts.)

commodity trader keeps the conversion rates for soybeans and corn stuck to his computer.

commodity conversion rate formulas

Trader Anthony Stinton keeps the conversion rates for soybeans and corn stuck to his computer. Photo: Anthony Stinton

In the commodities world, they are a mathematical headache. Ariel Haendler, global head of soybean trading at Chinese state-owned trading giant Cofco International, said he always carries a calculator when he attends strategy discussions with colleagues and uses it to convert metric weights into bushels. (1 metric ton of soybeans = 36.74 bushels.)

During those meetings, there is “always a 10-second break when we make these big calculations on these calculators going back and forth like we’re in the fourth grade,” said the Swiss-based American trader. Even though Mr. Haendler has the formula memorized, getting the numbers wrong could be potentially costly, he added.

To help market participants with their math, CME Group Inc., which operates the Chicago Board of Trade, has a 44-page pocket guide that includes scores of weight-conversion tables for a range of commodities.

For example, it recommends that to convert 11,000 metric tons of soybeans to bushels, users can simply add the conversions for 10,000 metric tons (367,437 bushels) and 1,000 metric tons (36,744 bushels) to get the total of 404,181 bushels of soybeans. Each soybean futures contract is made up of 5,000 bushels.

On the Scott family farm in Delphi, Ind., there isn’t a bushel to be found. “It’s just an idea in our head,” says Brian Scott, who grows soybeans with his father and grandfather along with corn and wheat. “We think in bushels but they don’t really measure in bushels,” he said.

Soybean farmer in Indiana.
Brian Scott grows soybeans on the family farm in Indiana. Photo: Brian Scott

Instead, trucks are filled to the brim with commodities and sent to a depot to be weighed before the produce is sold to trading firms. ”When you deliver, they measure in pounds,” Mr. Scott said, noting they give a receipt with a bushel measurement too. One truckload of beans weighs roughly 1,000 bushels, he says.

America remains an outlier holding on to the old imperial, or U.S. customary system, of pounds and acres when the rest of the world has largely shifted to the metric system of kilograms and hectares. Other countries that use the imperial system include Liberia and Myanmar. In addition to bushels, the U.S. also uses pecks and lugs, which are wooden boxes of no standard size.

Traders say the challenge with bushels is that they are a measurement of volume, so the weight of whatever is in it varies depending on the commodity. While soybeans and wheat weigh roughly the same, corn is slightly lighter.

“If I take the price of Chicago wheat and I want to know what it means for the rest of the world, I multiply it by 36.7437,” said Chris Bird, a senior global wheat trader at Engelhart Commodities Trading Partners, without missing a beat. As he has to do the conversion 20 or 30 times a day, “I have it set up on my screen to do it but honestly I could almost do it in my head,” he added.

He wasn’t so quick with commodities he doesn’t trade. “Corn is 39 something-something-something…” Mr. Bird said. “It’s very random.”

There’s also confusion between Canadian and U.S. bushels, which have different capacities. The latter is also known as the Winchester bushel—named after a British town—first mentioned in a law in the 17th century and was defined as a barrel that is 18-1/2 inches wide and 8 inches deep. The measurement was abolished by the English in 1835, a year before the U.S. Department of Treasury adopted it as a unit of measure.

The Winchester bushel, named for a British town, dates back centuries.

picture of a bushel

The Winchester bushel, named for a British town, dates back centuries. Photo: SSPL/Getty Images

FarmLead, a Canadian-based online marketplace for soybeans, wheat and other commodities trades, has a calculator on its website for customers to convert pounds, tons or other measures to American bushels. The soybeans currently for sale on its site are stored in a flat bottom bin.

Before deals are done, people often need to “scribble out their math” or “double check the conversion” to make sure buyers and sellers are talking about the same amounts, said Alain Goubau, the company’s chief operating and financial officer. At the end of the day, traders have little choice but to hew to the American system, he said, adding: “It comes down to—do you want to be right or do you want to do business?”

Brian Rohrig’s hog farm outside Des Moines, Iowa, sometimes uses physical bushels made of aluminum to measure soybean meal before it is mixed into feed for the pigs.

The bushel baskets are a decent volume gauge, said Mr. Rohrig, but there’s one downside: they are much heavier than a five-gallon pail. The machine his farm uses to mix animal feed now has its own weighing scale, so there is less need for the bushels, he added.

loading soybeans into a truck

loading soybeans into a truck

Soybeans unloaded onto a truck in Illinois. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

Lucy Craymer at Lucy.Craymer@wsj.com

 

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PRESS RELEASE:  JULY 10, 2012

Barn World adds PolyDome products to line of livestock supplies

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 12:01
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BarnWorld.com, the online mega-store for livestock supplies like cattle guards and hay feeders, has expanded their already extensive selection to include a line of polyethylene plastic products.

The new large selection expands the wide range of farm and ranch supplies including bulk grain bins, lick feeders, mineral feeders, calf nurseries,and feeders.

The calf nursery line is designed with superior ventilation to separate calves, promote healthy lung growth, prevent disease and allow the calf to develop to its fullest potential.

“BarnWorld.com is always looking for better, animal friendly products and suppliers to increase the selection available to customers,” said Rob Moore, owner of Barn World. “Environmentally friendly, polyethylene products are the future of livestock supplies.”

“Greater selection helps customers get exactly what they need at a fair price. We are always available by phone to help customers choose the right size bulk grain bins, hay feeders, mineral feeders and cattle guards for the type of livestock they are working with.”

Polyethylene plastic is a great choice for livestock items. The material is impact resistant and can withstand both temperature extremes and corrosive chemicals.Polyethylene has an easy-to-clean, slippery surface and can be recycled. Products are mostly one piece with no sharp edges or seams to injure livestock. Polyethylene is also lightweight, making products easier to move and less expensive to ship.

The polyurethane bulk grain bins particularly well-suited to high moisture materials like corn and soybeans. end_mark

Barn World, your online livestock supply and cattle guard headquarters.  Call (720) 238-2190 or visit www.barnworld.com today!

Grain Bins: Barn World now offers plastic grain bins

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Grain Bins from Barn World

Barn World now carries a large selection of Poly Grain Bins.

Poly Grain Bins are a fantastic feed bin design and are perfect for handling highmoisture soybeans, corn and granular materials. These feed bins are a polyethylene grain bin constructed with a high-density polyethylene they won’t corrode or rust. and will always be attractive and clean. 

The interior surface is a very smooth two-piece construction that reduces bridging.  There are no rivets and grain-clogging seams to contend with. The translucent polyethylene allows you to visually check material line from the outside.

All of our plastic grain bins have a 22″ top opening with a hinged, vented filler cap and a pull rope that allows ground control for filling.

There are 3 different transition collars available for the slide valves– 90°, 45°, and 30° angles. (See Accessories on page 18.) The new style collar allows easier attachment to the bottom cone with little or no cutting necessary. Our slides feature a galvanized plate and guide system. Our auger boots will attach to any of our slide valves and handle 4″ or 6″ augers. The auger boots have a clean out access cover.

The poly grain bins have a 16″ hole in the bottom cone and come in a variety of sizes:

  • The .8 ton bin has 38″ of ground clearance to the slide valve.
  • The 1.5, 2.5, and 3.5 ton bins have 15″ ground clearance under the slide valves.
  • The 4.5, 6.5, and 8.5 ton bins have 14″ ground clearance under the 90° slide valve; and 11″ ground clearance under the 30° slide.

Theses bulk feed bins feature heavy-duty support frames with extra large secure plates for more holding power. They have flat strap cross bracing for increased stability. The .5 – 3.5 ton units come standard with 4 legs; the 4.5 thru 8.5 ton units have 6 legs. The legs have large support tabs which can be bolted to concrete for added stability especially on the larger units.

 

grain bin picture

Polyethylene Grain Bins

All of the plastic grain bins at Barn World have a sturdy ladder with slip guard. It is braced securely to the top of the tank near the filler cap.

All hardware is supplied. Erection time is one-third of steel bins.

Frames have a baked-on polyester powder coat finish which resists corrosion.

It is recommended that you use a concrete pad at least 5 1/2″ thick for our 4.5 ton thru 8.5 ton units.

Please visit BarnWorld today and change out not only the bins, but the wide variety of farm supplies, ranch supplies, and equestrian supplies made by American manufacturers. Our best selling items are hay feeders, cattle guards, feed bins, saddle pads, mineral feeders, livestock scales and many livestock supplies.  (720) 238-2190

Mini feed bins have a variety of uses and hold more than just grain

Feed bins from Barn World and www.BarnWorld.com

These feed bins are ideal for use as feed bins, storing corn for burning stoves, various grain pellets, bulk seed or anything you need saved and easily dispensed.  They come with a hopper collar and slide valve for easy dispensing.

Mini Feed Bins from Barn World offer hobby farmers a great feed bin storage option

  • With the increasing popularity of corn-burning stoves, the mini bin offers a solution for storing the corn needed to burn those stoves
  • Ideal as a feed bin for small hobby farms
  • Works well for range cubes – approx. 3/4″ round and 2″ long
  • Feed bin has a 40 bushel or 2,240 lbs capacity
  • Protects feed from moisture and bugs
  • Feed bin is constructed of galvanized steel
  • Load feed through the lid on top of bin
  • This mini feed bin weighs 211 Lbs.
  • 5′ diameter, 8′ tall
  • Visit Barn World today and see our selection of full-size grain binsmini feed binsgrain bins and all of our livestock supplies.

    Small Feed Bins for Hobby Farms and Bucket Feeding

    Not everyone needs a high capacity grain bin. A lot of people have small amounts of feed they need to store, dispense and manage and don’t need a giant bin hulking on their property. They just want something they can use to feed with buckets and not motorized augers.

    For this purpose, much smaller and more manageable feed bins are desired.

    small feed bin

    Small Feed Bins

    These great little bins will dispense almost any loose material. They are popular for storing heating pellets, bulk seed, corn and yes of course grain.

    Construction

    These bands are seal tight to keep out bugs and moisture. The poly material contains a UV inhibitor and it’s designed to be used Outdoors year-round the large slide valve is big enough for range cubes enlarger granules. Simply pull the steel handle and the plate slides open and allows you to control the flow of grain into a bucket. A paragraph please note that an auger is not available with this Bend, 4 lower volume use. The roof and lid are both made of polyethylene well the walls are made from galvanized steel. The large lid locks down so it won’t blow up and prevent any rain or moisture from entering the bin.common Core

    Assembly Manuals

    These bins are very easy to install. To keep shipping costs low, they ship un-assembled and only require minimal skills to put together. Here is a diagram of the larger 65 bushel bin fully assembled.

    small feed bin assembled diagramTo get a sense for how it’s done, click on one of the assembly manuals below:

    Small Feed Bin Uses

    The bins allow large size materials to pass through the manual slide valve at the bottom. This works great for managing all types of materials, not just animal feed.

    small feed bin assembled in a pasture

    Heating Pellets

    A lot of homes burn pellets for heat. This includes corn and pellets design specifically for burning in a stove. When using this system a method of storing and dispensing is made easy with the small feed bin.

    It keeps the pellets or corn dry and protected from moisture and allows for manually dispensing to a bucket set under the bin.

    Feeding Animals

    The mini feed bin is great for filling buckets and feeding animals by hand. It’ll also dispense range cubes as large as 3/4″ round by 2″ long.  The large locking lid opens very wide for easy filling and it’s smaller size makes it very manageable.

    Sizes

    There are two different available sizes. Each bin is 5′ in diameter and the extra capacity is created by adding a second steel ring wall section. The diameter remains the same but it adds 2′ to the overall height

    Dimensions and Capacities

      • 40 bushel  / 2,240 pound capacity (corn) – 5′ diameter and 8′ tall
      • 65 bushel /  3,640 pound capacity (corn) – 5′ diameter and 10′ tall

    Shipping

    As mentioned above, the bins ship un-assembled on a pallet to keep shipping costs low. We are able to ship them around the country and if you’d like a quote with delivery right to your door, just let us know and we’ll forward one for your review.

    Contact us anytime and we’ll be happy to help!

    Barn World | Sales@BarnWorld.com | 720.238.2190

    Grain Bins for Feed Management

    Grain bins provide efficient efficient management and storage for all types of feed and other loose materials. The heavy duty construction protects the elements in rodents alike.

    These are high-capacity bins that are commonly found throughout the United States. They offer large storage capacities and heavy duty construction for use almost anywhere.

    Barn World as a large selection both metal grain bins and poly in a variety of sizes. Whether you need 108 bushel capacity or 975, there one for you!

    grain bins in metal and poly material

    Metal Bulk Feed Bin Design

    These heavy duty steel grain bins are built to hold High capacities of loose material outdoors year-round. It stores and protects from the elements, pests and rodents alike.

    Below is a part diagram of an assembled bin for review. Note the steel wall seams have overlap drip guards and won’t let water into the bin. This design culminates in a 16″ diameter opening at the bottom of the hopper sections.

    This allows a multitude of attachments such as manual slide valves and motorized augers for unloading.

    bulk grain bin assembly diagram

     

    Corrugation

    The waving bends in the steel walls are there to create additional vertical strength. The walls have 4″ wide corrugation that adds an estimated  25% increase in strength over a a wall without corrugation. The corrugation also creates a release point for free-flowing. The waves of the Steal reduce the downward resistance on stored material and help reduce any bridging or ‘hanging up’ on the interior of the walls.

    The G-90 Steel

    G-90 is a designation for the finish that coats the steel. It refers to the amount of zinc that remains on the material after a hot dip in zinc. The 90 means that there is a minimum of .90 oz. of zinc per square foot. This provides excellent protection for corrosion and rust and allows the bins to be used exclusively outdoors, year-round.

    Lids

    Top lid that can be controlled while standing on the ground via a lever. Simply pull the lever, it opens can you fill the bin without ever leaving the ground.

    grain bin lid open on topThe lids have a vent built into them to release hot air and moisture that may build up inside.

    Assembly

    The bins are built by assembling them on their sides and then standing up right. A cement pad is used to anchor the legs to the ground to prevent tipping in high winds when empty.

    Click the following link for the bulk grain bin assembly manual. It details how to build an erect a complete feed bin.

    Below is a picture of a bin being raised to the upright position.

    how to stand up a grain bin diagram

    If you need a heavy-duty bulk grain bin, take a look at the Sioux Steel design. It’s built to last and comes in a lot of different sizes to fit your needs.

    If you prefer the newer poly design, click the Poly Grain Bin to see our selection in polyethylene construction.

    Please email or call for a quote with shipping to your address. We do ship them through the United States.

    Barn World | Sales@BarnWorld.com (720) 238-2190

    Small Grain Bins for all kinds of storage

    Small grain bins can be used to store and manage not only feed, but all types of loose material that’s used around your farm, ranch or even your home. They’re handy for storing and distributing smaller amounts of feed, pellets or corn used for heating your house and really distributing any loose material.

    small grain bin

    Although we carry and distribute a lot of the larger metal grain bins, sometime you just don’t need that much capacity or have room for that kind of storage. This smaller bin is much more manageable, is easy to assemble and will easily dispense into buckets with the included manual slide valve.

    Small Feed Bin Uses and Benefits

    The bin is ideal for a lot of different loose material storage and dispensing. Below are benefit and uses for this smaller bin size.

    • Variety of storage possibilities – corn, heating pellets, animal feed bulk seed or any bulk material really.\bulk seed or anything you need
    • Pellet burning stoves require corn or pellet storage and this bin is perfect for it.
    • Small feed bin for smaller feeding and storage requirements.
    • Range cube storage – great for large cubes that are 3/4″ round and 2″ long
    • Capacities include 40 bushel (2,240 pounds) and 65 bushel (3,640 pounds)
    • Keeps material or feed protected from moisture, elements and bugs.
    • Feed bin is constructed of galvanized steel
    • Load feed through the lid on top of bin

    Sizes

    The bin is available in both and 65 bushel capacity. The diameters are the same for both at five feet but the larger bin is two feet taller at 10′ overall. It weighs approximately 114 pounds more and uses the same poly boot and slide valve for manual dispensing.

    Below is a diagram of the assembled 65 bushel bin that is really the 40 bushel with an extra horizontal ring added to it.

    mini feed bin diagram

    Small Grain Bin Specifications

    Below are the dimensions and capacities for each size bin. Note the diameters are the same, it’s just the overall height that increase to provide room for the additional capacity.

    small grain bin specifications

    Visit Barn World today for a quote with shipping right to your door or call (720) 238-2190 and we’ll be happy to help on the phone!

    Poly Grain Bins Have Some Advantages or Metal Bins

    Poly Bulk Grain Bins have a lot of advantages over the traditional metal grain bin designs. Consider a poly den when making your next purchase decision.


      

    Bulk grain storage is a necessity when working with large quantities of feed. Traditional metal grain bins been around for decades and are traditionally thought of as the standard in the industry. New polyethylene materials have made the plastic grain bin design a stout competitor to metal.

    Benefits of a Poly Grain Bin

    Large poly grain bins are a great choice for handling high moisture materials such as soybeans and corn. The high density polyethylene is translucent so unlike its metal counterpart, you may see the levels remaining in the bin at a quick glance.

    The walls are created with a UV treated, high density material that is 3/16 inches thick. It will never corrode and is impervious to rusting you can expect long life out of these bins.

    The simple assembly is also major improvement over the metal grain bin design. Typically, the metal bins are made up of corrugated sheets of steel that require many nuts and bolts to assemble. This poly design includes one upper and lower section that bolt together in the middle. It’s like putting one ice cream cone on top of another and makes assembly quick and easy.

    Assembled Grain Bin


    assembled grain bin with section identification  assembled poly grain bin

    This design also creates a smooth interior wall all the way to the hopper which helps reduce bridging. The lack of bolts coming through to the interior of the bin eliminates any flow issues.

    Grain Bin Options

    These large bins are of course available with an optional auger system is a mechanical means of unloading is required. The auger attaches to a collar and unloading boot just like the metal bins. Auger lengths go all the way up to 6 inches in diameter and a maximum of 21 feet in length.

    They come standard with a ladder, a ground operated bin lid and the choice of manual slide valves if desired.

    When buying a new, take a look at our poly grain bins and let us know if we can put together a quote for your review.

    Sales@BarnWorld.com  720.238.2190

     

    Grain Bins Protect your Feed from Mother Nature and Pests

    Grain Bins are a staple of the American Farm and Ranch

    Grain bins in various sizes

    Metal Bulk Grain Bin

    Our bulk grain bins offer safe, dry feed storage and are available in 6′, 7′ and 9′ diameter sizes.  All grain bins have 4″ wide corrugation reduces the resistance to downward flow of feed, feed hang-up and bridging.  Industry test have proven that wide corrugation gives 25%more vertical strength than narrow corrugation, and almost twice the strength of bins with no corrugation.  Wider corrugation results in wider bin sheets, thereby increasing capacity.   The same width corrugated bin holds more bushels than a narrow corrugated bin.

    two grain bins

    We also have a grain bin erection manual online for the grain bins so you can see how easy it is to assemble.

    Small Grain Bins

    The mini feed bins are made from rust-proof plastic and with a metal collar. It includes a bottom slide valve and may be seen at Barn World.

    mini grain bin  small feed bin outside

    Visit Barn World today and see all of our grain bins or call (720) 238-2190 and we can forward a quote with shipping right to your farm or ranch.

    Grain Bins for Storing your Feed

    Visit Barn World today to see our great selection of grain bins and mini feed bins. The bins protect your feed from not only Mother Nature but pests as well. Take a look at all of the metal and poly bulk grain bins below.

    grain bins of various sizes

    Grain Bins

    These bins offer safe, dry feed storage and are available in 6′, 7′ and 9′ diameter sizes.  All grain bins have 4″ wide corrugation reduces the resistance to downward flow of feed, feed hang-up and bridging.  Industry test have proven that wide corrugation gives 25% more vertical strength than narrow corrugation, and almost twice the strength of bins with no corrugation.  Wider corrugation results in wider bin sheets, thereby increasing capacity.   The same width corrugated bin holds more bushels than a narrow corrugated bin.

    We also have a grain bin erection manual online for the grain bins so you can see how easy it is to assemble.

    Grain Bin Diagram

    Mini Grain Bin

    The mini feed bins are made from rust-proof plastic and with a metal collar.

    This is a great mini feed bin for dispensing almost any type of material. The small size is handy when used for storing feed to be dispensed in smaller quantities such as buckets. The poly lid and hopper section won’t ever rust and the galvanized steel walls are designed to last a life-time outdoors. The large, hinged lid provides protection from mother nature and the slide valve at the bottom offers a 24″ ground clearance.

    It also comes with the 30 degree poly boot and slide valve as pictured and is available in 40 and 65 bushel capacities.

    Small Feed Bin Description

    • Great for use with stoves that burn pellets or corn
    • Sealed tight to keep out bugs and moisture
    • Designed for outdoor use
    • Large slide valve handles range cubes
    • Hopper valve bottom is two feet above the ground under the feed bin
    • Walls made from galvanized steel
    • Large lid locks down tightly
    • Poly boot and slide valve is included

    For larger sizes and other sizes, see all our feed bins.

    small feed bin made with poly lid and hopper section for storing grain

    Visit BarnWorld.com today for all of your Grain Bin Storage needs or call (720) 238-2190.