Apple seeds were brought to Wisconsin and planted by settlers as early as 1800. During this time there were no commercial orchards, although most of the state's early farms included an orchard to provide fruit for the farm family.
The first commercial apple orchards in Wisconsin were planted between 1830 and 1850. These early orchards produced many different apple cultivars, some of local origin.
With its short growing season and severe winters, only the hardiest apples could be grown successfully in Wisconsin. In 1890 the Wisconsin State Horticultural Society, a forerunner of the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association, established trial orchards in many parts of the state. Many of these orchards were failures, but the project supplied information that was necessary for successful commercial apple production in Wisconsin.
Commercial orchards are now found in 57 of Wisconsin's 72 counties, comprising about 3,100 acres and producing about 54 million pounds of fruit worth over $24 million per year. Most of the commercial acreage is found in four locations in the state. The most concentrated areas are at Southwest Wisconsin (Richland, Trempealeau and Crawford Counties) Door County area, and Bayfield County.