Mike Pirrone Produce Inc. has boosted its cucumber acreage and switched to trellis production.

Capac, Mich.-based Pirrone grows a full line of summer and fall vegetables, and for the most part, acreage is similar to last year, with the exception of cukes and pickles, said company president Henry DeBlouw.

Cuke and pickle production is expected to rise as much as 20% this year, and the vast majority will be grown above ground on trellises, DeBlouw said.

“It was a very expensive investment, but it’s definitely in our best interest,” DeBlouw said.

Five levels of strings hold the cucumber plants to their stakes on the trellises, DeBlouw said. With trellises, he said, cucumbers grow straighter and are less susceptible to “yellow bellies” — they have dark green skin all around.

In addition, because they’re off the ground, cucumbers have more room to breathe, are less susceptible to diseases and other problems, and as a result have longer shelf lives, he said.