Nothing enlivens a farmer’s spirit of optimism and hope for the harvest to come than spring planting.

After winter months spent in planning and looking at market signals to determine what to plant, the miracle truly begins when the farmer puts seed to soil in the spring and prays for cooperative weather.

Spring 2011 brought particularly great expectations for America’s corn farmers. Robust demand and tight global stocks were telling farmers to plant more corn. And farmers responded to the market calls.

The prospective plantings report released by the Agriculture Department on March 31 indicated corn farmers would plant 92.2 million acres this year to meet the growing needs for food and fuel. If realized, the 2011 corn crop would be the second largest planted acreage in the United States since 1944, behind only the 93.5 million acres planted in 2007.

Farmers were ready to go, but then weather, their greatest friend and fiercest foe, had its say. Devastating floods dealt a staggering blow to farmers in many states. A spring that began in hope and optimisms was tempered with worry about getting the corn crop planted.

As of May 1, only 13 percent of the U.S. corn crop was planted, compared to 66 percent last year or the average of 40 percent, according to the Agriculture Department. Corn planting is clearly behind schedule in the eastern Corn Belt, and it is cause for concern. The encouraging news is that farmers in the western Corn Belt are making significant progress in getting corn planted while planting in the southern Corn Belt is nearly complete.