7,500 different varieties of apples are grown around the world, 2,500 of which are grown in the United States. 36 states grow apples for commercial production. The first edible apples in North America were grown by the puritan colonists of New England.
Most of the apples available in stores are propagated by two processes: grafting and budding. In the grafting process, a cut piece of one apple tree is placed onto another. Eventually the grafted part of the apple tree becomes the part on which apples grow. The budding process involves a cut stick from an apple tree on which buds have already grown. These sticks are kept in moist fabric until they develop roots and are then planted in soil.
Grafting and budding are necessary because most apple varieties do not come true from seed. When most apple seeds are planted, the resulting tree comes not from the variety of apple the seeds came from, but from that apple's last stable ancestor. Because early apples were bitter and inedible, propagating most apple trees using seeds is not possible.
A very few apples do come true from seed, including the Newtown Pippin, which was the first apple that the pilgrims exported back to Europe. Grown for nearly 400 years, the Newtown Pippin remains a popular apple today.