Name: Luca Boldrini
Location: 
Standard Wellness, Gibsonburg, Ohio 
Title: National Director of Cultivation
One word to describe your cultivation style? 
Commercial
Indoor, outdoor, greenhouse or a combination? Indoor, outdoor, and greenhouse. I have a strong preference for indoor.

Can you share a bit of your background and how you and your company got to the present day? 

I entered the cannabis industry in 2008 as an entrepreneur and cultivator by self-funding and operating grow operations across California. I moved to Colorado in 2014 to design and manage what became one of the first and largest indoor deep-water culture facilities in Colorado. In 2019, I became the director of cultivation for Curaleaf Connecticut, where I transitioned the company from soil to hydroponics in a new state-of-the-art facility. I have a passion for the science behind cultivation, and it has driven me forward to today where I am the national director of cultivation for Standard Wellness, directing cultivation sites across three states.

I have specialized in highly controlled indoor grow spaces that produce the highest-quality cannabis possible, but I have also grown in greenhouse and outdoor environments. I have a wide breadth of hydroponic media experience including rockwool, coco and deep-water culture. I have grown successfully under all forms of artificial lighting and room designs, including two- and three-tier LED flower rooms. I have developed a highly effective and all-organic integrated pest management program that utilizes beneficial insects and bacteria to perform most of the preventive pest and pathogen management.

What tool or software in your cultivation space can you not live without? 

[A handheld] temperature and humidity meter. Most static sensors go out of calibration, and they are only located in one area of the grow space. Even with multiple sensors per room, it can be difficult to find pockets of stagnant air without a reliable handheld meter. I wouldn’t feel as confident in the integrity of the grow spaces without using the temperature and humidity meter to verify existing sensors.

What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your business in the past six months? 

UV sterilization wand. They are relatively inexpensive depending on how often you plan to use it and at what scale. UV light can be used at any phase of growth to sterilize the leaf surface, but I most often use it during the cloning phase when plants are more vulnerable to pathogens and pesticide applications.

What cultivation technique are you most interested in right now, and what are you actively studying (the most)? 

I am most interested in pushing the limits of tiered LED flower room designs, specifically three-plus tiers. The environmental control and labor challenges presented are interesting to work through.

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours? 

Failure is always going to be a part of being in a new industry, especially when you live on the cutting edge and are pushing the limits. The goal is to avoid catastrophic crop loss or large failures, and to limit the lessons learned to smaller experiments that don’t hurt revenue.

I have failed too many times to choose a favorite, but the coolest outcome happened after flower lights got stuck on for two weeks past their intended transition, and I ended up yielding the highest I have ever yielded due to the larger-sized plants. Quality was not premium, but yield was very heavy, and it was fun to see such massive colas.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven grower about to enter the legal, regulated industry? 

Focus on environmental control, irrigation, and genetics. Those are the most important factors to success in the grow. After that, it’s management skills.

How do you deal with burnout? 

I create a strong team around me that can help shoulder the burden, and I have a good work/life balance. It’s important not to confuse being busy with being productive, typically people that find themselves being busy aren’t very effective or productive. The mind needs thinking and digesting time; one task followed by another leads to burnout.

How do you motivate your employees/team? 

I think it’s important to align everyone’s goals and then incentivize everyone accordingly. We can’t always control pay rates and infrastructure improvements, but we can control the general attitude we bring to work. Keeping internal conflicts to a minimum and allowing people to feel safe and productive at work is very important to a high-functioning team. It’s also important to understand that everyone has unique needs and cater to them if possible.

What keeps you awake at night? 

I sleep very well. A common concern used to be, “Did I forget to turn that valve off?”

What helps you sleep at night? 

Having a strong team with integrity who are wondering, “Did I forget to turn that valve off?”

Read more interviews with growers sharing how they approach cultivation in CBT’s regular Cannabis Workspace series here: bit.ly/cannabis-workspace. This article originally appeared in the article “The Making of an MSO,” published in the July issue of Cannabis Business Times. 

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