Drivers traveling along East Monte Cristo Road or Farm-to-Market Road 1015 may have spotted an unusual sight along the roadway last month — what, from a distance, resembled a candy-colored marshmallow, a bright pink blob dotting the browns and blues of Hidalgo County’s farmland.
The blobs, as Bradford Wyatt refers to them, were actually bales of cotton wrapped in pink plastic waiting to be taken to the gin.
The Wyatt Ranches administrator decided to stray from the standard John Deere yellow wrap this cotton season in an effort to raise awareness about cancer.
“I don’t think there is anyone who has not felt the pain of cancer in their family and friends,” Wyatt said. “Cancer does not discriminate — it can touch anyone, anywhere.”
Since 2014, John Deere suppliers across the nation have sold pink plastic wrap, which is made in the distinct shade identified with the worldwide campaign for October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.
The pink wrap resulted from a request by Jason Chandler, a Missouri cotton producer who lost his sister to breast cancer in 2010, and wanted a way to honor her.
“It took quite a bit of study to accomplish the color,” said Mike Bieber, the marketing director for Tama USA, who worked with Chandler to develop the wrap, which Israel-based Tama, a crop packaging producer, created for John Deere.
After the Delta Farm Press, a specialty newsletter for farmers, picked up the story about Chandler’s pink-wrapped cotton bales in fall 2013, demand for the product “snowballed,” Bieber said, adding, “I had requests from (John Deere suppliers) all over the country, from Texas, from California, from the East Coast and the Carolinas.”
This cotton season was the first time Edinburg-based Wyatt Ranches, which plants cotton in the Rio Grande Valley and the Nueces Strip, wrapped its bales in pink, after local suppliers ordered the color. Wyatt said he plans to continue doing so in future seasons.
“We’ve had a lot of positive comments. We’ve had a lot of people take pictures and send them to the different (ranch) associates, a lot of expressions of encouragement,” Wyatt said. “If you can bring awareness to something and if you have the option to do it, then why wouldn’t you?”