Farmers forced from their fields by wet conditions Friday could at least enjoy the run-up in corn and soybean prices to two-year highs.

Corn shot up 23 cents per bushel Friday to $5.22 for the December contract, and soybeans climbed 32 cents per bushel to $11.26 for November delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade.

The cash value of Iowa's corn and soybean crops, on paper, has risen about $4 billion since mid-June - going from about $14 billion in mid-June to more than $18 billion now. Back in June, corn futures sold for $3.45 per bushel and soybeans sold for $9 per bushel.

Exports have fueled the price surge. U.S. Department of Agriculture data show corn exports up 16 percent through mid-September from a year earlier. Soybean exports have risen another 4 percent from last year's record levels.

Analysts say corn benefitted in recent weeks from drought in other parts of the world, notably Russia, as well as strong domestic demand from processors and ethanol producers.

With break-even levels this year for corn around $3.75 per bushel and soybeans at $9, according to Iowa State University, farmers stand to make substantial profits this year.

City folks may share in the bounty, too. Deere & Co., Iowa's largest manufacturer, said earlier this month that it expects farm equipment sales to increase 10 to 15 percent this year in North America on strong farm incomes - a sign that Deere and other equipment makers and their suppliers will enjoy another good winter buying season as tax time nears.

Shoppers have yet to feel anything more than mild bumps from what have been relatively low beef and pork prices, however.

U.S. Department of Agriculture figures show that the price of hamburger rose from $2.13 per pound in August of last year to $2.50 this year. The price of choice steak actually declined, from $5.90 per pound a year ago to $5.67 last month.

The USDA says ham prices are unchanged, at $2.45 per pound, from a year ago. Bacon has seen the biggest increase, from $3.58 per pound to $4.35 per pound, because of a nearly 50 percent runup in the price of pork bellies since Jan 1.

A big question still looms about the size of this year's harvest. Some of the increases in corn and soybean prices have been based on worries that summer rains in the upper Corn Belt caused yield-cutting damage to crops.

Iowa farmers say that while yields are still good by historic standards, their early takings from their corn fields have been disappointing, with yields off as much as 10 to 15 percent from last year due to damage caused by the heavy rains in July.

"We've taken some corn out at about 150 bushels per acre on land that yielded 170 bushels per acre last year," said Jeff Adam, whose family farms near Batavia.

"That is disappointing," said Adam. "We had great early planting conditions, then had heavy rain in July. That set the crop back."

Gordon Wassenaar, who farms near Prairie City, said yields in some of his low-lying areas will be down 30 to 50 bushels per acre from last year. But he is optimistic about his soybeans, which he said look great.

Ron Gordon, who farms near Creston, said his corn is decent, but he is excited about prospects for his soybeans.

Throughout the summer, farmers and agronomists had worried about flooding and so-called Sudden Death Syndrome, the root disease that has emerged as soybeans' biggest nemesis in the past decade.

"But we don't appear to have much Sudden Death problem," Gordon said.

For a farmer like Gordon, the 50 percent rise in the price of corn futures presents a dilemma. Do you contract to sell now or wait for even better prices?

"I sold some corn at $4 a few weeks ago and was pretty puffed up about it," he said. "Now it looks like the $5 price is going to hold."

One group nervously watching the corn markets is ethanol producers, who have seen their industry ping-pong from profits to losses and back to narrow profits in response to corn prices.

An ominous sign for ethanol producers is the decline in the wholesale price (without taxes) of unleaded gasoline from $2.08 per gallon in August to $1.91 this month. Ethanol has ridden higher corn prices from $1.65 per gallon last month to $1.97 this week.

Fuel blenders have little incentive to add ethanol to regular gasoline if ethanol is more expensive than regular.

"Margins are getting tighter, there's no question about it," said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.