FRANKLIN COUNTY, IL (WSIL) — With this heat, it’s not unusual to talk about the “Dog Days” of Summer, but what exactly does that mean? And what do dogs have to do with heat?

Thursday is one of the hottest days of 2021 for southern Illinois and the surrounding regions with heat index as high as 110 degrees in Cape Girardeau, MO, and only four degrees cooler in Harrisburg, IL on the low end.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac says the “Dog Days” of summer start in early July and last until August 11th. In ancient times the hot and humid period was believed to be a time of drought. They say it would drive dogs and people mad.

Franklin County’s Farm Bureau president Leon McClerren says it also refers to the rising of Sirius-the Dog Star. He says it’s not all bad. Soybeans thrive in the heat.

“Farmers normally associate the Dog Days as some of the hottest days, normally the doughtiest days, although this year we’ve not had that,” says McClerren. “Soybeans really thrive in hotter conditions than corn, and now the corn, most of it is on its way to filling, so yeah, this is great for our soybeans.”

The “Dog Days” arrive after the Summer Solstice in late June. McClerren says when the heat and humidity is at their worst, farmers pay close attention to their crops. They look for gray leaf spots and southern rust. He says in spite of heavy rains early this season, crops look good and harvest forecasts are promising.

“Most farmers are optimistic,” says McClerren. “I do believe that the edge of the fields are not indicative of some of the holes in the fields, but I think overall we’re probably looking at an average, above average crop.”

For really hot days like Thursday, McClerren says the best way to beat the heat is to not fight it. Try to stay inside if you can. If you do have to be outside, stay in the shade and drink lots of water.

Originally Appeared Here