This was the time of great growth in apple varieties. Itinerant grafters traveled with scions, or twigs, of popular trees in their backpacks. By the late 1800s, Vermont orchards had hundreds of strains - apples that ripened red, green, or gold, apples to pick early or late, apples that were used in many more ways than we use them today.
The typical 19th century Vermont apple orchard was a small place, perched on a hardscrabble hill, and producing a dozen or more different varieties. Its various apples were good for cooking, sauce, pickling, jelly, eating fresh, giving at Christmas, making into cider, and storing until spring.
After the Civil War, for-profit orcharding began in earnest. Between 1870 and 1890, commercial orchards were set in Charlotte, East Highgate, Cambridge, and East Corinth. The relatively open spaces of the Champlain Valley began to make the area a prime orcharding spot, from the northern Champlain Islands to the southern lakeside towns of Shoreham and Orwell. Much of the Champlain Valley had been cultivating wheat - but in the late 1800s, as much larger Midwestern farms started raising grain, many Champlain farmers turned to apples, for which they still have some of the best conditions in the world.
By 1894, northern Vermont had become one of the most important apple-growing regions of the continent, supplying markets in the United States, Canada, South America, and even Europe. According to the Vermont Agricultural Report of 1894-95, apple growers were meeting with specialists in fertilization, cultivation, and spraying, and knew the importance of handling fruit carefully for market. The scene was set for the commercial orchard era, which began in 1890, became extensive around 1910, and continues today.