In 1917-18, a devastating freeze along the Champlain Valley killed many of the old apple varieties. Afterward, the commercial growers began concentrating in earnest on a limited variety of popular, attractive, multipurpose apples. In 1920, the "big four" Vermont varieties were McIntosh, Fameuse, Northern Spy, and Wealthy. Also important were, in order, Rhode Island (or Northwestern) Greening, Delicious, Wagner, and Winter Banana. Because a great number of large orchards were by then raising proven varieties, cultivated by sound methods, a forecaster in the 1920s predicted that Vermont's apple culture would develop into producing large, profitable crops of fine-quality fruit.
The old hill-farm culture, meanwhile, had faded, thinned by population loss. With it many old apples were lost. But in the 1970s, an influx into Vermont of young people interested in living close to the land contributed greatly to a revival of interest in old-time apples. Today, a large number of antique varieties have been nurtured back to life on revived, hill-farm orchards. Old apple varieties are commercially available at Vermont orchards in South Hero, Monkton, Waterbury Center, New Haven, South Burlington, Mendon, Essex Junction, Dummerston, East Burke, Shaftsbury, Orwell, Springfield, and Middlebury.
Recent years have also brought increasing sophistication to Vermont's orchards. In the 1980s, an average of 79 commercial growers, on 3,500 bearing acres in total, produced an average annual crop of 1.25 million bushels of apples. Along with the dominant McIntosh, leading commercial varieties of today include Cortland, Empire, Paulared, and Delicious. The introduction of semi-dwarf varieties has permitted more trees to be cultivated per acre, and yields have grown dramatically.