An Interview with Master Grower Shlomo Booklin – Part 1

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Aneesa Guerra-Khan
Aneesa is a writer and contributor to various publications, stemming from her diverse experiences working in sports, cannabis, social media analytics, and animal welfare. Her years of communications, social media marketing, and PR experience has been fuelled by her passion for writing and community development.

Why is a platform like GrowerIQ so useful to Master Growers?

GrowerIQ recently caught up with Master Grower, Shlomo Booklin. With the cannabis industry in aggressive growth mode, experts like Shlomo are in high-demand, and are helping shape the best-practices and SOPs used across the industry. Many of our resources, like What is the Highest Yielding Indoor Strain for Cannabis?, How to Become a Master Grower of Cannabis, Master Grower Tips for Cannabis Growth, and Cannabis Strain Selection & Sourcing, were all inspired by Shlomo's insights. Shlomo Booklin has worked for some of the biggest names in cannabis, and recently stopped by the GrowerIQ office to discuss the duties of a Master Grower, and how he expects recreational legalization to impact the industry.

Daniel Kain: How did you get into the cannabis industry?

Shlomo Booklin: I’ve worked all of my life in large scale production facilities; I’ve worked on projects in Australia, Israel, Europe, and Canada. When cannabis started to be legalized in Canada, companies were looking for professional growers who had experience with large scale facilities. I’ve worked with many producers, such as Tilray and MedReleaf setting up facility floor plans, irrigation & fertilization systems, and, of course, ensuring ACMPR compliant processes.

DK: What is a Master Grower, and what are the duties of a Master Grower?

SB: Cannabis is a very valuable crop, every percentage counts - very high financial volume compared to any other crop. A Master Grower is in charge of the full facility operations and needs to be professional and understand that any crop failure is a big financial loss to the company. Especially with cannabis, if we don’t strictly follow Health Canada’s regulations, the shipment or product can be refused, which is costly for the company.

DK: What’s your favorite part of the job, and why?

SB: My favorite part is the medicinal application, Master Growers really help patients. In the past, I’ve grown poinsettias or geraniums for the holidays at commercial scale, and often they end up in the compost bin. Growing cannabis is a different level of satisfaction. Knowing that I’m helping patients with their conditions, I’m helping their lives.

DK: You’ve been Master Grower for some of the biggest names in Canadian cannabis, what are the key challenges of large-scale commercial cannabis cultivation?

SB: Growing at large scale, you need attention to detail. You must be aware of different climates and conditions at every stage and in each room, and you must have all the information necessary to act proactively and make decisions confidently.

DK: In such an environment, how do you measure success? What about failures?

SB: The only way to measure success is if it passes Health Canada regulations and lab testing to determine if its sellable; fortunately, I wasn't involved in too many losses or failures! There are a lot of things that need to go right to make sure a batch is successful, but you can also just as easily go the other way. Lots of things can cause failure and you have to be diligent. However, if you know the plant and crop, and have a few cycles under your belt, you are more familiar with it and know what to expect.

DK: What’s something people would be surprised to know about the Cannabis industry?

SB: How much money is involved in setting up the operations, the first capital investment is huge.  The details of Health Canda’s ACMPR are cumbersome. I can’t even count how many restrictions LPs face growing compared to growing any other crop.

DK: What impact do you think recreational legalization will have on industry grow practices?

SB: Initially the price will skyrocket, as we have seen it other places like Colorado and California. After a couple of months the price will drop which pressures growers and producers to be more efficient and better in their consistency and quality. The competition will be stronger for the producers to maintain a good brand name and reputation in the industry.

Part Two of our discussion with Master Grower, Shlomo Booklin is now available here!

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