Pickin' Tips: Before you hit the road...

Before you jump in the car to hit those pumpkin patches and apple orchards, here are a few things to keep in mind:

• If you’re traveling a long distance, call ahead just to be sure the farm is open. Some family run farms may close on rainy days or when they’re having a special event.

• If you’re looking to actually pluck an apple from a branch or yank a pumpkin from its vine, make sure that’s what your destination offers. Some pick the apples and pumpkins on their own and then display them for customers to choose from. That’s still fun, but you might be disappointed if you’re looking for a true “picking” experience.

• If you’re apple picking at a small orchard, call ahead to make sure there are still apples to be picked. A busy weekend can clean out some of the smaller orchards rather quickly.

• Know where you’re going! Your GPS might not work on some of those farm roads. Have written directions or a real map on hand.

• Bring cash. Some farms and orchards offer much more than picking. Some have food, hayrides, corn mazes and much more. So you’ll want to know how much all that costs before you head out. There probably aren’t ATMs close by and many places might not accept credit or debit cards.

• Have a backup plan. It might be bright and sunny when you head out. But it could be pouring rain when you arrive to the patch. If that happens, restaurants or other nearby fun zones are good alternatives.
• Always stay connected to your orchard or patch via their website, Facebook or twitter.