The shortage of water resources influences the future sustainability of sticky Maize (Zea mays L.) production. Deficit irrigation (DI) - a water management strategy - has gained much attention from scientists because of enhanced water use efficiency (WUE). Nonetheless, in reality, when applying this technique, its impact on yield and economic returns should be considered. Through an analytical literature review, this study examined the effect of growth stage DI on Maize production factors, i.e. yield, WUE, and economic returns. The results revealed that Maize’s WUE could be improved with the lowest reduction in yield as water stress was imposed during the vegetative or maturation growth stages. Therefore, the profitable returns could be reached even if the yield was reduced; however, the economic return was sensitive to commodity prices. The present review addressed that the Maize flexible capacities under growth stage water stress presented an opportunity for the optimization of irrigated water and profit preservation by accurately judging the managing time of irrigation implementation.
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