A Brief History of New England Apples

WHEN THE FIRST EUROPEAN SETTLERS ARRIVED in the New World, they found no apples, only a few types of wild crabapples. The earliest record of cultivated apples in New England appeared in 1623, just three years after the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock. The region has had a strong apple growing tradition ever since.

A number of varieties were discovered here, including the popular heirlooms Roxbury Russet, America’s oldest named variety, in 1635; Baldwin (Massachusetts, 1741); Black Oxford (Maine, 1790), Northern Spy (Connecticut, 1840); and Rhode Island Greening (Rhode Island, 1600s).

Today, New England continues to be distinguished by its history and diversity. More than 30 varieties are grown in commercial quantities, and dozens more are planted in smaller amounts, many for their properties in cider (New England is at the center of the national resurgence of interest in fresh and hard ciders).

New England’s leading apples are McIntosh, which accounts for about half of the crop; Cortland; Macoun; Empire; Gala; and Honeycrisp.

The six-state region comprising Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont typically produces about 3.5 million 42-pound boxes (the modern equivalent of a bushel) of fresh apples every year. By acreage, the biggest state is Massachusetts (3,100), followed by Maine (2,700), Connecticut (1,800), Vermont (1,700), New Hampshire (1,300) and Rhode Island (230).

*          *          *

THE NONPROFIT NEW ENGLAND APPLE ASSOCIATION was founded in 1935 by a group of wholesale growers from the New England states and New York, and incorporated as the New York & New England Apple Institute.

In 1993 New York created its own marketing organization, and the institute was renamed the Northeast McIntosh Growers Association, which was eventually shortened to New England Apple Association.

The New England Apple Association’s mission is to promote the New England apple industry through educational and promotional events and special projects. The Association website introduces visitors to the wide variety of New England apples, the nutritional value of apples, and how apples are grown and prepared

Board of Directors

Russ Holmberg, Holmberg Orchards, Gales Ferry, Connecticut

Steve Rowse, Vice Chair, New England Apple Products, Leominster, Massachusetts,

Giff Burnap, Secretary-Treasurer, Butternut Farm, Farmington, New Hampshire

Ryan Bishop, Bishop’s Orchards, Guilford, Connecticut

James Bove, Chapin Orchard, Essex Junction, Vermont

Heather Faubert, University of Rhode Island

Ellen McAdam, McDougal Orchards, Springvale, Maine

Ned O’Neill, J. P. Sullivan & Co., Ayer, Massachusetts

Al Rose, Red Apple Farm, Phillipston, Massachusetts

Chuck Souther, Apple Hill Farm, Concord, New Hampshire

John Steere, Steere Orchard, Greenville, Rhode Island

Gordon Waterman, Romac Sales, Sanford, Maine


Bar Lois Weeks
Associate Director


Russell Steven Powell
Executive Director