If you buy a watermelon at a Walmart in Texas, chances are it’s from the farm of Jack Wallace Jr., a Texas Farm Credit customer.
Wallace, who farms near Edinburg, in the Rio Grande Valley, appeared in a Walmart television commercial a few summers ago, voicing his pride in being a Texas farmer. The TV spot was part of a Walmart-sponsored series featuring local growers’ stories.
“I’m just honored to be part of the Texas farming community,” Wallace says. “It’s a blessing to be a farmer.”
Consumer education is key
Television appearances are nothing new for this third-generation farmer. Five years ago, he and his father, Jack Wallace Sr., were among five potato growers featured in television commercials about Lay’s Potato Chips.
Consumer education is important to the family. Every year they welcome local school children to the farm to learn about farming and the source of their favorite foods. The Wallaces consider the television commercials just another way to educate consumers about agriculture. In addition, Wallace serves on the National Watermelon Promotion Board.
Trying something new
Jack Wallace Farms has been a contract potato grower for Lay’s Potato Chips since 1964. A few years ago, they began growing watermelons. In 2012, Wallace began a partnership with fellow farmer John Prukop, a member of the Texas Farm Credit Board. Prukop has grown watermelons on his family’s diversified farming operation, near Premont, since 1977. Together, Wallace and Prupko grow 400 acres of melons annually.
“We have good growing conditions for watermelons,” Prukop says. “This part of Texas has the right heat and the right soil, and we’ve got a lot of people who enjoy our product. Texas is a big consumer of watermelons.”
Finding new success
Nationally, Texas ranks third in watermelon production. More than 40 percent of the counties and rural areas of Texas produce the crop.
Favorable conditions are part of the equation. Knowing how to make the most of climate and soil are important, too. “Although watermelons are not their primary crop, you can be sure that Jack and John have figured out the best way to grow melons,” says Texas Farm Credit CEO Mark Miller.