Mike Posey wants everyone to know that Wishing Star Farm is open for business this season, offering fresh choose-and-cut Virginia pine Christmas trees to families looking for a unique holiday experience.

“A few farms didn’t open this year because the drought has affected them. There were some reports in the media that no Christmas tree farms would be open, but that’s not the case,” Posey says, speaking from his Bonham, Texas, farm.

While he did lose some seedling trees due to drought, most of the trees have come through just fine.

“What people don’t realize is that even though we are in a drought cycle, there have been some spotty rains. Some people will get the moisture and be OK, and some won’t,” he says.

Posey has had Christmas trees in the ground for more than 20 years, and currently is tending 6,000 non-irrigated trees on 7 acres.

“Virginia pine, if left to itself, will not be a Christmas tree. It will be bushy, leggy and open,” he says. “They have to be sheared two or three times a year to give them shape.”

Posey handles all the tree care himself, which, in addition to shearing, involves weed and insect control.

“It’s just like in any other crop, you have to stay on top of those issues,” he says, adding that the pine tip moths and aphids are the primary insect threat to his trees.

Another aspect of tree care — which Posey jokingly calls “the biggest secret of the Christmas tree industry — is the use of color on trees.

“Pines yellow in the winter, so we go in and spray with a coloring agent that preserves and colors the needles,” he says. “Some people say that spraying with color takes away from the quality of the tree, but I disagree. We want to provide the best-quality, best-looking tree, and that’s why we take the extra step.”

Fresh Christmas trees are the reason customers come to Wishing Star Farm, but Posey and his wife, Betty, work hard to make sure people have a memorable experience, too.

“We offer people a chance to slow down a little during the hectic holiday season,” he says. “We take people on a hayride out to the trees, help them cut the tree if they want, and we even tie it on the car for them. We invite people to have a cup of hot chocolate around our campfire before they head home.”

The Poseys even have Longhorns, horses, mules and donkeys for the children to feed — an opportunity Posey says some kids from the city have never had.

During the off season, Posey says the farm is open for private parties and hayrides.

“I’m an amateur astronomer, so we’ve also had astronomy sessions for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts,” he adds.

According to the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association’s Web site, about 150 Christmas tree farms in the state produce 200,000 trees annually. For more information about the Texas Christmas tree industry, go to www.texaschristmastrees.com